A Little to the Left – PS5 Review

A Little to the Left is an organising/puzzler from Canadian coding crew, Max Inferno, and it has been floating around on Steam since November 2022 but is now making its way over to consoles for a reasonable £12 with some day one DLC, Cupboards & Drawers, setting you back another fiver if you’re looking for more OCD-soothing sort-’em’-up gameplay.

There’s no plot here to worry about and instead you are just thrown into the action.   Well… not so much action, but you’ll be sorting things out right away without worrying too much about why.  The way things work is that you’ll be presented with a 2D scene of some sort of chaos and your job as the player is to tidy it up.  That’s all the world building you need.

To do this, all you do is move a cursor, pick up objects with and drop them where you think the game wants them to be.  And that’s the crux of the matter in that similar games, such as Unpacking, are happy for you to neaten things up without being too anal about it, but A Little to the Left wants things done its way.  That can mean stacking items by size, sorting them by colour, fitting them into an overall space so that they piece together like a sort of jigsaw and so on.  There’s actually quite a bit of variety to how this game’s logic works and there are plenty of levels across the game’s 4-5 hour lifespan.

And when it works well, A Little to the Left is something of a joy, especially when there’s a little bit of a puzzle element to a level, such as an early one where you expect some books to be ordered by size but in fact it’s the pattern on them that is the key.  The simple controls, minimalist music and clean visuals all combine to make a very relaxing experience.  This is when the game is at its best.

However, it’s not all good news as some levels are either too fussy about how you solve them or the logic is just a little too vague when it comes to finding the right solution.  Where some levels have your item placements locking into place and sounding a little chime to let you know you’ve been a good girl or boy, others just feel too random and manic.  Sorting a pile of NES-style cartridges into a stack by size is nice and intuitive but a cupboard where everything is on the floor (on a flat plain so you can’t see all of them) just makes for a slow, frustrating start to a level.

Thankfully, there’s a hint system that can be used without penalty that represents the finished scene as a pencil drawing if you get too stuck.  We always did our best to resist using it but there were times where it was just so unclear what the game wanted that we had to.  And that’s fine, after all there are no leaderboards or PvP elements here to worry about.  A Little to the Left just isn’t that sort of game.  But it can get a bit tiresome.  Especially when you start a new level and just know that it’s going to be an absolute faff.

The good news though is that the mix of levels is such that even if you get one you don’t like, the odds are that you might get one more suited to your sensibilities next.  And it’s nice seeing how the game’s level design progresses as you move through the various chapters.  And your idea of a ‘bad’ level is entirely subjective.  Someone else might love those type of stages.  A Little to the Left caters to all sorts of tidy-uppers.

The minimalist presentation won’t win any awards but it holds together well enough to serve its purpose.  Sure, we ended up muting the game music after a while and the simple visuals are such that this could have easily have been from three or four gaming generations ago but none of it gets in the way of the gameplay and that’s what matters.

With its varied puzzles, clever solutions and relaxed charm, A Little to the Left will certainly appeal to anyone wanting to slow their gaming down for a good evening chill session and while we can’t promise that you won’t get annoyed when the game’s logic and interface get a little too fussy, we’re pretty sure that you won’t end up hating it either.  And the fact that the game has a cat in there occasionally vying for your attention, just makes things better.

A Little to the Left
7 Overall
+ Enjoyably chilled gameplay
+ Plenty of levels
+ Reasonably varied
- The game's logic isn't always clear
- Maybe too chilled for some
- Basic presentation
A Little to the Left offers you the chance to clean up someone else's clutter and that's either going to be right up your street or the worst thing you can imagine. If you're in the first camp then this is for you.

About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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