Inverse Recommends

This New Xbox Game Pass Release Is My Only Chance At Having A Clean Apartment

Embrace your inner Marie Kondo.

Originally Published: 
screenshot from A Little to the Left
Max Inferno
Inverse Recommends

Cozy games have been in the spotlight for the past couple years, offering players a way to relax and enjoy some low-stakes gameplay, usually with soothing music and cute graphics to back it up. One of the best in recent memory adds a sense of chaos and creativity to the process, along with some handy features that can save you even when frustrations arise, and it’s now free on Xbox Game Pass.

A Little to the Left is a fairly minimalist game. When you play, your entire screen is taken up by a collection of household objects, from bowls to pencils to plants, and your job is to tidy them up. But unlike PowerWash Simulator or Unpacking, your goal isn’t necessarily a clean or efficiently arranged space. Instead, each short level has its own rules, challenging you to fit the objects together based on some unstated logic. That can mean arranging books based on color, peeling stickers from a variety of fruit, or placing different pasta shapes in an aesthetically pleasing order.

The satisfying puzzles of A Little to the Left are charming and not too demanding.

The unstated rules of A Little to the Left keep its organizational puzzles from getting stale, but they can also slow down the proceedings. Since it’s never made explicit exactly what you’re supposed to do, it’s possible to get stuck not knowing what a particular puzzle is even asking of you.

The solution always revolves around some notion of tidiness or organization, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to click with your ideas. It can be frustrating when a level’s opaque expectations don’t match your own approach to cleaning, but wrapping your brain around the game’s quirks is part of the fun. Most levels also have alternate solutions, so even once you solve a stage intuitively, there’s joy to be had in coming up with other less obvious patterns.

If you really can’t figure out a particular puzzle, A Little to the Left still has your back. A clever hint system hides a pencil sketch of each level’s solution behind a scribbled-out page. You can use an eraser to see as much of the solution as you want, which lets you decide if you want the whole puzzle revealed or just need to be pointed in the right direction. There’s also an option to skip any stage entirely if trying to work out its logic is spoiling the mood.

A Little to the Left explores the joy of putting your apartment in order.

Max Inferno

Cozy games often explore activities that are already fun, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ island vacation vibes. Others, like Unpacking, turn something that’s as laborious in real life as moving to a new apartment into a strangely therapeutic puzzle. I have no doubt that for some people, A Little to the Left-style organization is just as satisfying outside the game. But for me, it’s a nightmare.

Like a lot of people with ADHD, I find the idea of cleaning and organizing about as relaxing as the idea of climbing a mountain, and about as likely to happen successfully on any given day. It’s not that I want to keep a collection of snacks, cat toys, and nail polish on every horizontal surface in my apartment, it’s just that I can’t seem to wrangle the energy to find a place for everything. Even if I did, I have a habit of forgetting where I put anything that’s not in my direct eye line, and somehow it takes less time for me to wreck my apartment again than it does to clean it up.

So for me, A Little to the Left depicts a world every bit as outlandish as Final Fantasy. One where my pencils are all in a row, my pictures are hung straight, and I have fresh fruit neatly arranged in a bowl instead of going bad at the back of the fridge. Even if the idea of an uncluttered desk isn’t some wild dream for you, there’s still a lot to like in A Little to the Left. Its chill approach to puzzle-solving and the room it leaves for alternate solutions makes it a stress-free way to enjoy making order of things — whether that’s a possibility for you in real life or not.

A Little to the Left is available on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. It’s included with Xbox Game Pass.

This article was originally published on

Related Tags