Disclosure ‐ Our thanks go out to Circus Atos for providing us with a key to review this game
It feels like it was only a few weeks ago that I was running my eyes over, and giving my opinion on, the charming Hidden Folks. That title was all about finding different characters and unique elements throughout the world, adding colour to an otherwise monochromatic place. This time, I am looking at Under Leaves, a title which whilst still being an item-find game, approached it from a very different perspective, and this time with a lot of additional colour.
When I say ‘colour’, I do mean literally a single colour. The main map and all the puzzles you will solve are based on continental differences. Europe will see you exploring deep red, autumn colours; South America has you in a jungle; Africa takes you to the desert brush, and there are a couple of other locations thrown in there too (I feel as though it would not be fair to reveal them all).
Each of these maps is based around a single colour that will really drive you crazy. For example, in the below image you are looking for the seeds as indicated by the meerkats. How many of those seeds can you find in that screenshot alone?
The answer? More than you realise!
These backgrounds are not just busy for the sake of busy. It is surprising to say but the character, the way life just starts appearing around the map is wonderful. Trees slowly start greening, fish start swimming, and flowers start blooming; each of these just add a little more life and character to the world.
There are some weaknesses though; it is shallow. Searching for numerous copies of the same thing for each level is not exactly thrilling (even though it is immensely satisfying when you find the final worm). It is relaxing and it needs to be played with that mindset. Just looking around the world is not as satisfying as in other similar games (Hidden Folks comes to mind); while it is brighter, it just doesn’t hold attention in quite the same way.
It is also important to come into the game with the idea that this is a short title. I have now played through this completely twice (I wanted to get the no-hint achievement) in just over 2 hours total. This, I think, reflects that it wants to be a short, tight experience, not something which I object to, but know that it is not aiming for 10+ hours of gameplay. And, if you are colour-blind then you will have issues as many of the hidden items are disguised based on low colour contrast rather than shape.
So what do I think? I like it. I do not regret taking the time out to sit back and just stare at the beautiful and semi-abstract worlds, searching for those stupid slugs. I think that it would also be perfectly suitable for the younger audiences. It is something that gives that immediate reward and extra satisfaction from completing that seemingly simple task. Under Leaves releases on the 27th of April, you should check it out.