Today we are going to be taking a look at Atari’s latest PSN game, The UnderGarden. The UnderGarden is an underwater exploration game where the goal is to create a beautiful world filled with flora and music in an otherwise dark and gloomy environment. The UnderGarden isn’t your typical game however as it combines platforming elements and puzzle solving elements but there are no enemies in this world stomp on or kill. The UnderGarden is all about creation so this is a game that is very suitable for players of any age.
The UnderGarden is a beautiful underground world filled with strange life forms, physics based puzzles and plenty of hidden secrets. The vibrant world comes alive and music evolves as players traverse throughout the game, pollenating flora. With local co-operative gameplay, players can chill out and work together to solve puzzles and explore the world. The UnderGarden offers 14 different levels of modern exploration filled with brain teasing physics and eco-friendly puzzles that evoke an emotional response to the beauty and calm of this underwater oasis.
In The UnderGarden, you start off in a central hub stage where all 14 levels can be accessed. Obviously you will need to play through each level in order to open up the next, but the central hub is where you would do it. Your gardener basically just swims around here and you move him to the level you want to play on. If you think about it, it’s similar to what games like Mario 64 did where the castle would be the “hub” and you would choose your level by jumping into pictures. The UnderGarden just does this on a much smaller scale.
The first thing I really want to mention here is how impressed I am with the graphics in The UnderGarden and the whole feel of the game. The game itself is actually quite dark and at first doesn’t seem like there is very much to it until you start moving around. This is where the graphics really start to shine as a whole new world of colors and flora will open up to you. One of the main aspects of The UnderGarden is to pollinate your environment so that the flora can grow. Atari did a wonderful job really bringing the plants to life here with their vibrant colors and variety. The plants really look alive here too as they sway back and forth on their own and react to your movements when you get near.
Sound also plays a big part in The UnderGarden. Throughout the game, you’ll have a chance to pick up little musicians which affect your surrounding area. They help the plants bloom to their full potential as long as you are near them. There are different kinds of musicians you can pick up an each seem to affect the flora differently. You don’t need to use the musicians however to get through the game, but the music these musicians make is quite delightful and I found myself picking up every musician I came across just to hear them play. It really adds to the whole relaxing atmosphere of the game.
Throughout The UnderGarden, you’ll run into a few physics based puzzles in order to proceed further in the level. They aren’t terribly hard, in fact, they are pretty easy to solve. I really don’t think the developers intended them to be hard however. By not making them very hard, The UnderGarden keeps it’s relaxing tone intact. I mean how relaxing would it be if you all of a sudden went into a total rage because you could not figure out how to solve one of the puzzles? By keeping things simple, the puzzles help add an element of thought to the game without pulling you out of your relaxation state. Keeping the puzzles simple also allows players of all skill levels to play. That means my 4 year old son can enjoy it just as much as my 34 year old self can.
The UnderGarden is a gem of a game. It’s one of those games that you might easily miss if you are just browsing through the PlayStation Network Store and have no idea what it’s about. That’s a real shame because The UnderGarden is a fantastic game that is like nothing you have ever played. The UnderGarden isn’t a fast paced game or even what I would call an blood pumping, exciting. What it is though is an experience, one that is both relaxing and amazing. All-in-all, I find The UnderGarden to be a rather unique game that I found every enjoyable. It’s not a game for everyone sadly, as it’s slow-paced nature might turn off certain players, but if you are into play games with unique themes and gamplay elements, The UnderGarden is right up your alley. I highly recommend this game if you are a fan of such games as Flower or FlOw. It has the same kind of charm to it.