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A Little to the Left review for Nintendo Switch, PC


Platform: Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Secret Mode
Developer: Max Inferno
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the whole “Wholesome Games” movement can be awfully hit or miss. While I appreciate the need for coziness and cuteness – and sometimes I find it quite welcome – at times it feels like these games have a desperate need to be loved that borders on something much darker. It was how I felt a game like Bear and Breakfast was claustrophobic and suffocating and it’s why I have similarly mixed feelings towards A Little to the Left.

I like the idea at the core of A Little to the Left: it’s a game about tidying. I’m certainly not a neat freak, but even I can appreciate how pleasurable it can be to see something in order. A nea and tidy desk, a vacuumed floor, an empty sink – they’re not things you usually notice, but when you do, you may get a fleeing feeling of accomplishment.

A Little to the Left is built around that feeling. It gives randomness – say, a bunch of papers strewn all over the place, or a series of books with lines on their spines, or pencils of varying lengths – and just asks that you create a sense of order.

And make no mistake, when it all makes sense, it’s awfully satisfying to get that little “bing” that pops when you get a puzzle right. At its best, it just makes sense.

But the problem is that it doesn’t always make sense. Far too frequently, A Little to the Left asks you to guess the reasoning behind some internal logic that doesn’t make any sense. It pretends it’s all about putting things in order, but it’s really a game about putting things in a very specific order, one that may have been obvious to the developers, but that doesn’t necessarily come through to players – even if you turn to the hint button.

It also doesn’t help that most of the game can be operated by touch controls, but every so often it suddenly decides you need to use a very finicky onscreen mouse. It takes you completely out of the vibe A Little to the Left is going for when you’re painstakingly trying to get a thumbtack at just the right angle.

What’s frustrating about those moments is that when A Little to the Left works, it works very well. As I said, there’s pleasure to be found in a bit of neatness and order, and A Little to the Left appeals to that specific part of the brain. But it doesn’t do it consistently enough to make the game worth playing, unless you like having a bit of frustration mixed in with your cute and cozy puzzles.

Secret Mode provided us with an A Little to the Left Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-