The past few days and nights we’ve found ourselves continuing to return to The UnderGarden. A delightful download game from Vitamin G Studios available on both XBLA and the PSN. We purchased for a measly 400MSP on Saturday afternoon, Linda took control and played through the first zone before we realised there was local co-op play. Immediately I jumped on the second controller and so began the first of many hours of wonderfully engaging gameplay taken at a relaxed pace. At first play we immediately felt this was not unlike Flower, the aclaimed PSN game, with the pollination game mechanic in play, however it soon transpired there was more to be done than just lighting up the landscape with organic life. Crystals need to be found, and some rather funky musicians need to be picked up along the way, with each level requiring you to pollinate all flowers, find the gem and pick up all the musicians at least once before it can be regarded as complete, although to unlock the next level you only need to make it to the end.
Successful completions however unlock cosmetic upgrades for your floating avatars, who are incredibly cute, despite what appears to be rows of very sharp teeth! New skins, which are a real help in co-op, horns and hats can all be unlocked and are accessible in game by floating your way into the costume cave. New mechanics are introduced as you progress, building on what you have already learnt to solve so as to keep you thinking without ever feeling punishing or stressful, it’s a real chill out game and the music and atmospherics only re-enforce this.
We are just past the half way point and enjoying every moment of the game. We can just sit back and relax on the sofa together whilst having some gaming fun and wind down from the day. There are a few annoyances to be found though, if the secondary player drifts off the screen they are popped out of existence only to re-appear next to the main player, which would be fine but any items you are stringing along at the time will be dropped where you were, which is some cases ‘breaks’ them so they are no longer useful. We also have issues when we both try to pick something up and end up seriously intertwined, which again requires you to drop everything, potentially loosing an item in the process. But these are minor things which could easily be tweaked in DLC or the next version. All in all a lovely co-op game that just does what it does just right.