It’s not a competition who can steam through Under Leaves the fastest, finding all the objects; it’s about taking in the calm, admiring the art and tell the world, “Not today”.
After reading about the promotional material and posting a news piece, I had to try this title from RedDeer Games. Within a few minutes, it was clear that this genuinely was a calming experience, but it could be a short-lived one.
Beginning with the Antarctic, the first task is to find some items requested by a polar bear. It’s a static screen with a blue hue, and you hover the cursor over the artwork hunting down the article. Once you find them, it’s onto the next location.
Under Leaves Switch Review
Much like the recent Tiny Lands, it started promising but felt that it was a little easy. Who judges a hidden object game on the first few stages? Me. Tsk tsk. Still, after the third level, I passed the controller to my three-year-old girl as she was patiently waiting for her turn.
This was where the game took a more positive turn as she lapped it up immediately; no complicated controls, no explaining what to do. She got it, and she didn’t need, or want, any help from me, and that was fine.
However, as anticipated, the challenges got harder but not in the sense that it’s stressful; you have to be more observant. When you get stumped in a game, it becomes frustrating, but in Under Leaves, we went with the flow and took our time, working together.
As the adult (apparently), there came a moment where we weren’t able to find an item as it was subtly hidden, and it was my duty to have all the answers. Forgetting myself for a bit, I reminded myself that I was reviewing the game, so I thought it might be worth a hint.
Nudge, Nudge, Hint, Hint
With the hint system, you have to solve a mini-puzzle before getting your clue. This wasn’t a clue, just common sense, but then an animated sequence occurs where a cursor appears on the screen, taking you to the missing item.
I would have preferred not to have the answer directly, just a hint, but I used this for the review and didn’t use it after that. Wrong. Some of the puzzles resemble a colour blind test, and while I’m not colour blind, locating some of the objects are bloomin’ tough.
It doesn’t feel like cheating when using a hint, as you aren’t penalised for it. This is for entertainment, yet doubling up as a relaxation technique of sorts with natures sounds and colourful scenes.
Without a timer or achievements to scout for, Under Leaves morphed into a subdued party-like game for the family. We all ended up playing as the challenges appealed to all ages. Interestingly it was usually the spectators that would find the elusive last item.
Under Leaves‘ visuals are beautiful and reminded me of a storybook by Eric Carle or perhaps the underwater scenes that had a few similar traits to The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.
And again, the ambient sounds of nature are an excellent addition to the experience. The music was a little cliche at times as if something straight from a meditation video. It wasn’t remotely bad, just not to my tastes, and certainly not a slur on the game.
Other than exploring the world and locating items in increasingly challenging scenarios, there are no additional features. My kids love the cards that come with things like Yoyo Bears, and having pop-up facts in the game would have been a good opportunity.
It’s a fair assumption that Under Leaves is geared up for family play. But don’t let that put you off if you hate kids. This is for anyone and everyone looking for something different that doesn’t focus on headshots or leaderboards.
Under Leaves Switch Review Summary
Any further spiel will be padding this review out. Under Leaves is a hidden object game that requires zero explanations on how to play. Go with the flow, admire the imagery and natural sounds at your own pace. A refreshing addition to your library.