Under Leaves is the pinnacle of casual gameplay that is designed to lower your heart rate instead of increase it. The Where’s Waldo gameplay is suitable for anyone, the water color visuals are whimsically pleasant from beginning to end, and the ambient soundtrack is so good you’ll want to just keep playing the background at all times of the day.
My stream of Under Leaves is embedded below:
Controlling an on screen cursor, the player is tasked with clicking on hidden things in the environment. Once you find them all, it is on to the next stage. Gameplay couldn’t really be simpler and some stages are composed of multiple screens which can be scrolled at will by tapping the d-pad. If you can’t find that last symbol or two and need a little help, the hint button can be tapped and the game zooms to the nearest piece once a slide puzzle is completed. It is a little strange to complete one of the 9-piece slide puzzles you played a million times when you were a kid but at least this prevents the player from spamming the hint system. It is a nice balance but you probably won’t really need a hint anyway.
Each stage focuses on one animal and an artist’s depiction of where that animal might reside. Once all the pieces have been found, the player is rewarded with an Achievement named after each animal’s scientific classification. I personally wouldn’t dare to pronounce some of these names but there is that appreciated educational factor in play.
Under Leaves is strange because it doesn’t have all the things that are usually needed to create a really entertaining game. There is barely any replay value, gameplay is as simple as can be, and there is barely any animation or things happening on screen. However, this is still a solid game that totally leans into the experience it is trying to create – a relaxing spa-like game that is designed to help you unwind after a long day.
Under Leaves is also available on Switch and Xbox Series X.