Release Date: July 29, 2021
There are probably a thousand different reasons why people play video games, and while they’re all valid, they’re most certainly not universal. Leaf Me Alone is not a game that’s going to appeal to everyone – there’s no fail state, no puzzles, nor is there even the barest whisper of a story. No, this is a beautiful but very simple game of being a small robot who vacuums up debris and leaves every place he visits tidier than he found it.
The main gameplay loop consists of using the left mouse button to pick up leaves, and then the right mouse button to deposit them in the oh-so-adorable refuse bin. You move with WASD and tell the bin to empty itself with R. On each level, there may be a couple of bigger objects that need to be disposed of as well, as indicated by a red outline like in the screenshot above. To move those, you’re going to have to hold down the left mouse button as you need to maintain suction to hold onto them. Once you’re finished cleaning, you hit enter to finish the level. That’s all you need to know to complete the whole game.
As you complete levels, you earn two types of currency. Points are used to upgrade your little vacuum-bot, increasing its range, capacity, speed, or buying one of two larger upgrades. Coins can be turned in for random cosmetic upgrades in the form of hats, backpieces, or new body colors.
There are 20 “standard” levels, and four “maze” levels, and there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping you from playing these levels in any order. In a little over an hour, I completed 7 levels (including the tutorial level) and one maze, with a little time left over for trying on a bunch of different cosmetics. Personally, I didn’t care for the mazes, but I was absolutely just chilling out with the regular levels. For me, the gameplay loop was both meditative and satisfying, and while I don’t expect that I’d ever want to just binge the entire game, I can see myself returning to it now and then when I just need to relax and clear my mind for a few minutes.
As far as “chore simulators” go, I don’t know that I’ve come across one more adorable than Leaf Me Alone, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the developer to see what they come up with next.
SteamDB estimates that Leaf Me Alone has sold somewhere between 600 and 1,500 copies on Steam, which isn’t terribly surprising considering it’s the first paid title from the developers and it’s in a pretty niche genre. However, the people reviewing it all recommend it, so that helped a lot in boosting its overall rank. It is ranked 1173 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.