Whimsy to the extreme.
The UnderGarden might just be the most easygoing downloadable game ever. Yes, even more than flower. Your task is simple – spread your seeds across the world. Oh, get your mind out of the gutter, you're growing a garden.
[image1]Unlike Viva Piñata, you're not growing cute little creatures, but actual plants. Sadly, there really isn't much of a backstory here; the game literally drops you somewhere dark, you pick a level and start playing. Gameplay is extremely easy to pick up – you're a wisp flying about, picking up pollen, and making flowers grow. Plants can grow just about anywhere and the overall objective is to grow as big of a forest as possible, as fast as you can. You won't really die, either, since nothing hurts you.
There is frustration, though, whenever you lose whatever you are carrying due to some incredibly awful controls. Flying around is fine on itself and you are given a boost to speed things up, but carrying items is a hassle. The trees you grow bear fruits that are used in puzzles, and picking up these items is dependant upon a single button. But these items are dropped whenever you let the button go, which can happen frequently by accident.
On the flip side, when you don't go nuts trying to regain everything you drop, there's a lot to enjoy in The UnderGarden. The pace is pretty slow and relaxing, and I for one caught myself thoroughly and pleasantly distracted by its flow. Levels are over quickly and not having to worry only added to my enjoyment.
[image2]The puzzles you'll come across are very clever too. There are those that involve pressure switches that rely on fumbling with the different types of fruit, and some that rely more on precision, like moving bomb-like spike balls in time with specific blocks that need to be moved in a set order. There's nothing extremely brain-teasing here and thankfully none of it deters the flow of the game.
In terms of replayability, there's only a handful of collectibles to worry about as you make your way through levels, in the form of secret crystals and an odd variety of special flowers that are only activated by music. You'll have to juggle some special items and characters in order to reach these, and complete stages fully. Thanks to the clear visuals, there won't be much standing in your way if you're the completionist sort.
Surely, if it weren't for the awful, unnecessarily nihilistic item management, I could easily recommend The UnderGarden to just about anyone. It's just one of those games that is easy to pick up at any point – incredibly relaxing and light on the challenge. If you're sick of shooting aliens in the face, there's plenty to dig in The UnderGarden.