Rusty Lake – Underground Blossom [Hivemind Review]

Underground Blossom is a point-and-click game created by Rusty Lake.

Underground Blossom title screein in a green tile room with a black briefcase and a small "start" buttom.


Style of Play:

  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection or mobile device

Recommended Team Size: 1

Play Time: about 2 hours

Price: Apple $2.99; Steam $3.49; Google Play $2.99; GOG $4.99; Itchio $3.49

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure


Underground Blossom is a point-and-click adventure that you download to play.

A red haired woman in a long black dress standing next to a baby carriage in the Wiegen-Allee station.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Underground Blossom told the quirky story of a young girl’s journey from birth to adulthood, presented through a sequence of increasingly surreal metro stops. Rusty Lake hit it out of the park yet again with this novel narrative structure. A repeated framing mechanic of discovering what time the train leaves and obtaining a ticket conveyed the passage of time. The gameplay itself communicated clear emotions surrounding each stage of life and was generally well signposted for a point-and-click escape room. Each “level” felt different in style and flow, with simple yet creative puzzles.

Underground Blossom was a bit of an outlier in the broader Rusty Lake universe — less explicitly macabre and a bit more heartfelt, all while weaving in familiar characters, locations, and Easter eggs. This game had layers: upon reaching the end, there was yet more to discover. And upon reaching the end of that, keep an eye on the achievements page for even more secrets. (Note: some of these third-level secrets require outside information from Rusty Lake’s internet presence. Nothing in the game hints at this need to look outward.) Rusty Lake continues to be one of my favorite creators of point-and-click escape rooms, and I’ve been delighted to see Underground Blossom and The Past Within both push the bounds of the genre in inspiring and unexpected ways.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

I’m going to start this review by admitting that I have an app folder on my phone entitled “Rusty Lake,” which contains literally every game previously released by the company (many of which I have played through several times and all of which I have recommended to countless friends and game enthusiasts). Perhaps this means my review is a bit biased or perhaps that just makes me very well qualified to review this game. All this to say, as with every other game this company has released, I really enjoyed it! I like to tell people that these games are akin to a point-and-click David Lynch film but with puzzles! For those who like to dive deeply into lore and expanded narrative universes, there is much to explore within the Rusty Lake catalogue and online fandom. I also recommend joining their Discord server if you like ARGs. As for Underground Blossom, I felt this was a beautifully executed installment in their story world and I loved some of the puzzle mechanics. I don’t want to say too much about the narrative itself because I think part of the joy of these games is the discovery but at the risk of a light spoiler, might I recommend that you watch the closing game credits all the way to the end. Your patience will be greatly rewarded…

Closeup illustration of a statue of Mr Owl's face.

Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction

You make your way through multiple subway stations as you experience the highs and lows in the life of a woman. As you solve puzzles you’re manipulating time to your advantage.

At its best, the idea of traveling from station to station was pretty neat. The difficulty level of the main game was fair and doable while the bonus mission presented a harder challenge. I also admire the art style and how they portray messages without a ton of tiring reading.

At its worst, Rusty Lake games are usually pretty vague in their storylines. Although Underground Blossom was surprisingly straightforward to understand in its concept, overall there is still a gimmicky weirdness for the sake of being weird (especially towards the end and within the bonus mission), where I was hoping for a clearer meaning. As for the gameplay, there was just one search component at the very end that felt too random for my liking.

All in all it’s another fun game in a twisted and dark-minded universe. If you’re a fan of their previous games, I’m sure you will like this one as well.

Fro’s Reaction

This new gem from Rusty Lake was packed with the familiar faces, places, imagery and ickiness that draw players back to this strange and unforgettable world year after year. With nods to multiple storylines from across the canon, Underground Blossom was a dreamlike journey through the mystery and heartache surrounding Laura Vanderboom that resolved to a touching conclusion of redemption and empowerment. The puzzles and interactions were largely strong and included some of my favorite puzzles to date in any Rusty Lake game. I particularly enjoyed the interactions required to progress to each of the next levels, including a few occasions where the game added a twist on these interactions. There were two puzzles where I struggled with the cluing, and one pairing puzzle where I had trouble matching the items because it wasn’t clear to me what they were.

A standout of Underground Blossom was the infectious and haunting soundtrack, which not only set the tone for the game, but was also well incorporated into the puzzles at a couple of points.

The richness of Underground Blossom is best experienced if you’ve already played the other games in the Rusty Lake series, so if you’re new to the canon, start from the beginning and work your way up. If the ending of Underground Blossom is any indication, the Rusty Lake universe will be alive and well for years to come and it’s never too late to join in.

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