XBLA Review: The UnderGarden

Who said games had to be all action and explosions?

Challenge your mind in the wondrous depths of The UnderGarden. Plunge into a unique new world exploring large underground caverns, encountering mysterious creatures to befriend or avoid. Solve mind-bending brainteasers and puzzles as soothing tunes accompany you on your journey through 14 distinct levels of state of the art 3D graphics. The UnderGarden offers a mental challenge and aesthetic experience like nothing else.

The UnderGarden is a very different type of game compared to the high octane action that we are used to from the games of today. The UnderGarden is a much calmer, relaxing type of experience that has you control a weird looking character as you bring flowers to life to progress through the stages. Some plants will hold certain fruits that can be used to hold down pressure plates or explode barriers blocking your path.

The gameplay may be a bit one dimensional, but it is quite relaxing and ultimately rewarding to bring all these plants to life by simply moving through the level. There are collectables hidden all around the stages that require you to solve more complex puzzles, but ultimately they are fairly easy. The UnderGarden isn’t meant to be much of a challenge, it’s supposed to be calming and it manages to succeed in this regard.

The problem is that it will only last you so long before it becomes repetitive, which is inevitable with this kind of game. There are reasons to go back like for achievements, but that’s only for true completionists. The rest will simply move on back to the more hectic type of games.

Visually though, The UnderGarden is beautiful to look at. Seeing each individual plant and flower sprout to life is a treat for the eyes. The areas are mixed in detail, but look much better when they are covered in flowers. The soundtrack is calm and soothing, matching the atmosphere of the game.

The Verdict

The UnderGarden is a nice, relaxing game in this era of fast paced action games. It may be simplistic and perhaps one dimensional, but does a good job overall. It might have benefited from some extra levels and more of a challenge, but it’s a good game that I would definitely recommend for those looking for something a bit less hectic.