The best puzzles are a little to the left

A Little to the Left, from Canadian indie developer Max Inferno, is a game about organization. Its quirky puzzles–which might have you straightening pictures on a wall, peeling stickers from fruit, or even sorting shadows on the right objects–are for everyone who enjoys the gratification of satisfaction that comes with turning order into chaos. While some of the game’s tough challenges can veer into boring or obscure, by and large, they’re bland, relaxing, and at times deceptively clever.

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There are over 75 puzzles to sort through and regular daily challenges, so you’ll never get tired of tidying up with new ones. But looking at the best of chaos, here are ten of the game’s most creative or fun puzzles.

Please note that some of them appear later in the game and may be considered spoilers.

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10/10 Put away cat toys

ALttL’s first chapter, Home Sweet Home, contains simpler tasks that are more activities than puzzles. However, they’re still fun, and will teach you some key things to watch as you approach the game’s more complex challenges later on.

At one of these stages, I put cat toys in a basket. The game’s hand-drawn art style is on full display here, foreshadowing the cat’s role in many future mysteries. You might even want to play with the squeaky jingle toys yourself for a while.

9/10 Order of game cartridges

Slightly to the left are game cartridges

This stage allows you to move NES-like game cartridges around until they are aligned in a neat package. Anyone who has classic games on their shelves can relate to this process, and wants to display posters well while maximizing shelf space.

Another early mystery, there’s not much to really solve, but it sure is nice to have the games lined up. As an added touch, there’s even a neat 8-bit beep for when two cartridges slide into place. If only it were easy to classify your games in real life.

8/10 world Wide Web

slightly to the left spider web

After several chapters of realistic scenarios, the later game’s puzzles begin to embrace more weirdness. At this point you will have to place the colored flies correctly in the correct places on the spider web so that the final image will be properly symmetrical.

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As you catch each fly, note where the other fly of the same color is on the web, and place the fly in the appropriate spot on the opposite side. Once you have them all in place, put a firefly in the middle, and then bon appetit.

7/10 Sort the pasta

Slightly left pasta

The second chapter is all about the kitchen and here you will have to sort out a variety of noodles. At this point, the game has conditioned that you want to arrange things by size and shape, so this puzzle throws a clever curveball by having you sort them by the curvature of the noodles instead. Start with thick, straight noodles, then arrange them in order of how much they curl or roll.

There is subtle humor in this puzzle, having you sort something based on what is visually appealing but impractical in real life. It’s a joke we wish the game would try more often, but we still appreciate putting ourselves in this messed up situation.

6/10 Lighting candles

Slightly to the left of the candles

There is an interesting magic at this point related to candles. You are given a match that can light the candles, causing them to burn out and shorten, but light them again, and the candles grow back. The game won’t tell you directly, and it’s a great example of how ALttL can lay the crumbs while letting you discover the mystery of the puzzles on your own.

As you raise and lower each candle, you’ll want to start by making them all the same height. But this puzzle has more than one solution. What other arrangements might sound good?

5/10 horoscopes

Towers a little to the left

While ALttL’s daily related scenarios – sorting batteries, fixing cracked dishes, organizing the medicine cabinet, etc. – are reliably satisfying, the game becomes delightfully unpredictable in its later stages. In this puzzle, you place stars in the sky to complete a series of constellations.

Get a star and move it around all night until it snaps into place. A sparkling trail will appear, connecting it to other stars as you approach; You can also use the constellation itself as a guide to see where more stars are needed to complete the picture.

4/10 Crystals in the tray

Crystals slightly to the left

We do not know why this puzzle made such an impression, because it is one of the simplest of the later stages and not particularly difficult. Perhaps because it arrived after some ambiguous situation involving arranging shells or leaves in symmetrical formations, but it was a relief to make a puzzle that felt like a puzzle.

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Fitting these crystals together to create a perfect square provides the same kind of satisfaction as tangrams or other traditional shape-based puzzles. It shows that developers not only know how to make chores fun, but how to design classic spatial challenges as well.

3/10 Petting the cat

slightly to the left cat

After a few fleeting glimpses of the cat past stages, you finally face them in one of the game’s final puzzles. You will quickly realize that you can pet them, but they don’t always like it. The trick is to have them pet them with the right timing, as indicated by the colors in the background, and essentially turn ALttL into a one-stage rhythm game.

This puzzler looks like it could be a WarioWare mini-game, taking a quirky and mundane activity and playing with it for a while. If you’re playing on Switch, you’ll even feel the cat purring across the console in a great use of HD percussion.

2/10 Mysterious photos

Slightly to the left are framed photos

This unforgettable puzzle presents you with a series of framed pictures. Your first instinct will probably be to straighten it out, but that seems too simple for an afterthought, and when you try it… nothing. The trick, instead, is to watch the animation within the images, and guide a ball from one image into a hole in another.

It’s a sneaky subversion of everything the game has taught you thus far, relying more on observation and lateral thinking than sorting or spatial reasoning. The fantasy tone also stands out after many mysteries are rooted in everyday realities.

1/10 The final meal

Slightly to the left is a food tray

The game reaches dazzling flights of curatorial imagination when one of the final puzzles has you assembling the ultimate portioned food tray. Layers and layers of small plates stacked perfectly. Bento box-style arrangement with containers as tall as a carrot or a half-eaten sandwich. Even the largest bowl is neatly mounted on three asparagus stalks.

With the music getting more tense and the paint getting more and more inconceivably complex, it’s an absolute celebration of the joy of curation. There is also a joke about not being able to match her cap at the end. (Well – I guess even in a utopia of little left, some things never change.)

Next up: the best co-op puzzle games

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