The UnderGarden – The PS3 Attitude Review
Look on the PSN and you’ll find a myriad of the typical shooters, platformers, and puzzle games. Search around enough and you’ll find unique gems like Flower, PixelJunk Eden and Flow. The PSN is known for taking aboard the videogame industry’s more quirky titles. The UnderGarden is one of those.
In The UnderGarden, players will travel deep into the caverns below the Earth where they will meet Ludwig, a hovering creature that’s part demon, part something else, but all cute. At least, that’s the description we’re going by. His (or her) goal is to pollinate the bleak world of the UnderGarden and bring some color and life to the scene. In order to successfully navigate the place, you’ll have to gather pollen, solve puzzles, and avoid hazardous obstacles.
Does The UnderGarden bring color to the PSN or should it have remained in the darkness and never see the light of day?
The first think you’ll notice about The UnderGarden is that it’s very basic. There are no lives, and there isn’t a time limit; basically you cannot die. The goal of the game isn’t to save the world or score the most points (although there are leaderboards) and there really isn’t even a story. Its purpose is a more aesthetic one.
Pollinating the flora around you opens a canvas of color and beauty. There are a variety of colors – from blues and purples, to yellows and reds – and they all shine vibrantly in an otherwise dark world. Not all of the plants are the same either. Some sprout flowers, others vines. As you progress through the levels, more and more variety is added to the game.
In addition to pollinating plants for the purpose of looking pretty, some can be quite useful in solving the various puzzles scattered throughout. These include plants that sprout fruits acting as weights, balloons, and explosives. You can grab a hold of these fruits and fling them to whatever location might be most effective. The puzzles aren’t too difficult to solve although finding the hidden crystal within each stage might prove to be a little challenging.
Visuals aren’t the only inviting aspect of The UnderGarden. The score of the game is unique in that you can add or subtract layers of audio. As you progress through each level, you’ll run into musician’s playing a specific instrument such as a drum, bass, flute, or guitar. As you get closer, their melody gets added to the soundtrack. If you like the music they play, you can carry them along on your adventure. The more musicians you have in your vicinity, the more dynamic the music becomes.
Carrying one or two musicians isn’t so much of a problem. When the number gets up to four of five though, that’s when things become a little difficult. They are kept in line through the use of a tether, allowing you to drag them along with you. In order to pick up more musicians or fruit, you must drop the ones you are currently carrying. Many times you’ll find yourself squeezing through tight spaces or having a musician end up going one way while while you go another. It’s the only frustrating part in an otherwise relaxing game.
In total there are 17 levels, two of which are new for the PSN version. Getting 100% on a level requires you to pollinate every plant, find the hidden crystal and flowers, and find all the musicians. Completing levels and collecting items unlocks bonus costumes for Ludwig. He can have different color skin or horns and also wear a top hat if he’s feeling fancy.
The replay value of The UnderGarden isn’t that high once you find everything unless you’re the type of person who wants to be at the top of the leaderboards. Still, you’ll be occupied for five or so hours which is a decent amount of time for a PSN title such as this.
The game does feature a co-op mode where a second player can drop in and out at any time. They can then help their teammate pollinate the plants, gather musicians, etc. Unfortunately, it feels a bit tacked on and doesn’t provide that same buddy-buddy feeling that playing other games with friends invokes.
Overall, The UnderGarden isn’t your usual fanfare you find on the PSN. It’s quite different with they way it blends elements of exploration and puzzle solving to create a colorful and relaxing adventure. It’s definitely not something for everyone and may have a small target audience, but if you’re in the mood to take a break from the hectic nature of life and other videogames, The UnderGarden is a fine choice.