The Undergarden Review

Undergarden Splash

Sometimes you need a break from the frenetic atmosphere of no-scoping a Spartan between the eyes or grinding a chainsaw’s into the chest of the locust horde. Sometimes we just want to kick back and relax in front of our TV sets and enjoy pure escapism. The latest in the very small genre of relaxing games is The Undergarden which is developed by Vitamin-G. In The Undergarden you play a weird character who spends his time pollinating reefs and caves full of plant life. Bringing the barren landscape back to life with budding flowers and fruits, it is your job to clear each area and pollinate as many plants as possible. Pollinating will sometimes cause fruits to be dispersed which need to be used to explode or lift stone walls and move cogs. It’s a very easy game that requires little brain matter to get the grasp of.

The game features fourteen levels, seven of which lack any variation which serves the main problem with The Undergarden. Whilst it looks very beautiful pollinating flora and fauna the games audio mechanics do very little to stop the game from becoming near-coma inducing. The game does pick up in the last two levels as the puzzle elements show more variation but until that point you float around bringing the Undergarden back to life. Now for a game that is meant to relax it serves its purpose but it’s also meant to entertain and entertain it did not.

One of the more attractive elements of the game is the musicians. The musicians are basically miniature forms of the same species as the character you play. If you pick them up and drag them towards pollinated areas they will change the colour of the flora around you and the music itself will also change in dynamics. Does the audio in the game provide you with the same experience as that of Rez or Everyday Shooter? Not really, whilst the sounds are pleasant, after a while you begin to feel like your floating around in Enya’s stomach. It’s such a shame that each game level feels so long and so repetitive. When we previewed this game it showed so much promise. It felt like it had the potential to be a decent competitor to the PSN Flower. Unfortunately it falls short.

The upside to the game is that it does pick up after the seventh level, but whether you’ll contemplate playing the game that far is another question. The game is made by Vitamin-G but I pondered whether I should be getting some Vitamin-D when I played this game. I almost felt slightly guilty that I was allowing myself to spend my time playing such a game when the upshot and entertainment factor didn’t deliver. You can collect items in the game and get 100% completion on each level which expands the lifespan of the game past the four hour mark and you can also customise your funny looking character. Unfortunately once again the game fails to deliver any logical reason to complete the game to this percentage other than a few rustic achievement points.

One thing worth mentioning is that the game does have co-operative play so anyone can jump in or out at anyone time. When playing two-player though we found that scope for exploration was very limited as the camera by default would follow the first player. This would then cause the second player to seemingly respawn again with yourself. So nothing good to report their either!

Whilst The Undergarden isn’t a particularly bad game, it isn’t good either. It’s not broken, it looks nice and some may find an appeal for it, but ultimately it is almost so relaxing that it’ll make you fall asleep. Whilst I love to play a relaxing game I’d be looking more towards Peggle, Flower or just chilling out over Vice City in a helicopter. The Undergarden takes the word ‘chill’ to below freezing and ultimately will leave many cold thinking where those 800 Microsoft points actually went to.


Better Than: Bliss Island (XBLA)
Worse Than: Lumi (XBLIG)

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