|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vitamin-G||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The Undergarden is a visually-striking game. This isn't because of highly technical levels or incredibly smooth animations, but because of the game's stylistic choices. It's clear from the moment you press the start button that the developers behind this game had a specific vision in mind, and they wanted to bring it to life in the best way they could. However, after spending some considerable time playing in The UnderGarden, I can't say that their mission was fully realized. Sure, there is plenty of style here, but as for substance, there is sadly not much to be found.
The game's premise is similar to PixelJunk Eden, but with a slightly different twist. You play as a cute, fuzzy creature who wants nothing more than to pollinate the flowers of the UnderGarden and see life flourish. And like the aforementioned PJE, the game doesn't have an overarching goal or bad guy. You simply wander through each level pollinating flowers as you please and solving some environmental puzzles to clear obstacles and proceed. Although this format sounds pretty fun at first, this is where Undergarden loses some of its appeal. The level design just isn't as inspired as one would hope. Though wandering around the levels pollinating flowers certainly has its charms, the landscape isn't all that varied and it's hard to get interested in making the same few plants bloom over and over again through the game's 2D maze.
Although there are some puzzles that break up the monotony, the puzzles themselves are very lackluster and use the same mechanics over and over. The basic puzzle-solving concept involves picking specific fruits that either sink or float and then manipulating oversized blocks or a wheel of some sort with them to proceed. Sure, the mechanics get more complex as the game proceeds, but after the novelty of the first few puzzles wears off, it's hard not to feel like you are just going through the motions with the puzzle levels.
Unfortunately, this lack of gameplay diversity carries over to the pollinating mechanic as well. Going though levels begins to be a bit of a grind, as you'll wander back and forth between the pollen sac and the world's different flora, and then repeat for as many times as it takes to get the job done. Of course, this mechanic was also put to use in 2008's Flower to great acclaim, but the difference here is that while Flower featured plenty of amazing visuals, a full 3D world to discover, and an interactive soundtrack; Undergarden just has a 2D maze to navigate.