I’ll start this review by saying if you have a Nintendo Switch, do yourself a favor and play A little to the left.
Yes, that’s high praise for a game, but I really have a hard time faulting this cozy little puzzle game, as you’ll soon find out.
First, for those of you who don’t know, A little to the left was one of the games Nintendo overshadowed at their Indie World Showcase. It’s a puzzle game created by Canadian indie developer Max Inferno where you can sort, stack and organize household items into arrangements. You also have to watch out for a cheeky cat who wants to mess up your order.
There are over 75 levels of clutter to clean up with a random daily puzzle to complete. And yes, before you ask, you can pet the cat.
When you play A little to the left there’s a general sense of sweetness and wholesomeness that radiates from every aspect of the game. From the music to the art style, everything was just satisfying. When I found out that the game was based on the developers’ (a married couple’s) real home and cat, it all made sense. I really felt like I entered their cozy world and was welcomed with a warm hug.
Puzzles in A little to the left range in different difficulty levels. Some see you rearranging a kitchen drawer or trying to remove stickers from fruit, and others see you trying to properly hang tools on the wall. My favorite type of puzzles in the game are the letter puzzles. They bring an inexplicable calm to my brain.
Speaking of calm, my main source of praise A little to the left was how much it eased my anxious mind.
Ever since I can remember my short time on this earth, I have been an anxious person and always in a state of panic. In 2016 I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder while still in high school (yes, I’m a kid).
My anxiety is always with me, even when I think I’m fine and in a state of calm, I still feel anxiety coursing through my veins trying to stop the constant flood of negative thoughts, doubts and worries. Having said that, I’ve always been able to live with it. It is something that is always with me, so it has become a part of my daily life.
However, in the past few months I have found my anxiety to be almost debilitating in a way I haven’t experienced since I left high school. As a result, I struggled to find ways to alleviate the intense anxiety.
I’m not someone who finds much benefit from meditation or mindfulness practice. I know they can be very helpful for other people with anxiety, but without stimulation I find my anxious thoughts are more and more present even when I actively try to calm myself down.
I think that’s why I’ve always been drawn to video games because they’ve always provided me with escapist stimulation. When I was playing A little to the left I didn’t run much, but I found myself preoccupied with cleaning. Because of this, I felt my body relax and my mind wasn’t as loud as it usually is.
Listen, I’m not saying this puzzle game is a silver bullet for my anxiety or anyone else’s mental issues, but A little to the left at least it calmed down, even if it was only for a few hours.
A feature I really appreciate about the game is that you can choose to leave a puzzle as it is if you’re having trouble completing it.
I ran into many puzzles that confused me, but the moment I started to feel frustrated or overwhelmed, I just moved on to the next puzzle and let bygones be bygones.
If you feel like you don’t want to give up, you can also use hints. The completed puzzle is on a small piece of paper that is scribbled in pencil. You can erase the scribbles with the eraser and you will see the finished puzzle below it. Depending on how much of the puzzle you want to see, you can clear different areas.
The warm atmosphere created in A little to the left the illustrations, quests, music, and cat-loving energy aren’t easy to pull off, and yet Max Inferno did it brilliantly. It’s not every day that a game helps you with your real problems and it was a pleasure to play this game.
You can purchase A little to the left for $22.95 on the Nintendo eShop.
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