The Undergarden isn’t a game so much as it is an experience. There’s no story, no death, and no losing. It does, however, provide a very nice experience. As a result, The Undergarden is a surprisingly hard game to review.
In The Undergarden, you play as an underwater fairy, tasked with growing underwater gardens with pollen you’ll collect from green pollen sacs that are spread throughout the levels. That’s the entire purpose of the game, to grow undersea gardens. Along the way a variety of physics puzzles will present themselves, though none should be hard enough to stump anyone. And, as mentioned, you can’t die or lose during a puzzle, though you can reload the game from checkpoints if you need to start a puzzle over from the beginning.
On the other hand, the visuals and audio are vibrant and wonderful. The entire point of The Undergarden is geared toward delighting your eyes and ears with sensory pleasures whenever you explore the levels and grow your gardens. By exploring, gardens will pop up as you pass by, exploding with colors and shapes. By finding and dragging around other fairies called musicians, you can change the music and interact with the plants you’ve just grown, changing the way they bloom or grow, even regrowing them into completely different plants sometimes.
The Undergarden is a great way to just sit back and relax. However, that’s all there is to it. That makes it hard to play for long periods of time, especially without any kind of challenge to the puzzles.
It is unfortunate that Undergarden is hard to play with a keyboard and mouse. There is no way to customize your control layout, and the awkwardness of it shows that it was really designed to be played with a controller, not a mouse and keyboard. Even worse, Undergarden never teaches you what the controls are, so it is mostly guesswork on finding out some of the controls.
In the end, what you get out of Undergarden is entirely dependent on your expectations. If you are looking for a challenging puzzler or a game in the standard sense of the word, you will probably be better off with a different title. However, if you want a relaxing sensory experience unlike any other I’ve seen, get The Undergarden, and play it with a controller if you can.
Pros: Visuals are vibrant and pleasing; Audio is wonderful and relaxing
Cons: Controls are awkward unless you have a controller