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Platform: Windows, OS X
Release date: February 7, 2014
Developer: Fred Wood
Love is painful, ever so painful. Foolishly I purchased this game expecting an easy-going experience that would keep me entertained for a weekend. What seemed at first to be a nice little retro platformer turned out to be a frustratingly challenging game.
As a retro platformer, Love does exactly what you'd expect it to do. Building on the simple format of the platformer genre, it provides a gaming experience that harkens back to the good old days of 8-bit. The visuals are truly reminiscent of that age, and each level looks appealing whilst managing to maintain the authentic 8-bit feel of the game - am I the only one thinks the little avatar resembles a simpler Miner Willy?
Love's main trait though is its difficulty. Standard mode, in which you are given a hundred lives to throw away, turned out to be too hard for me; I ended up completing the game on easy, without having to worry about lives at all. The difficulty stems from meticulous level design that can only be praised; every level poses a unique challenge, but none are impossibly hard. The game offers a genuine challenge that was frustrating but nonetheless enjoyable.
The soundtrack is also worth mentioning - on the whole the music was good, with a few tracks in particular standing out (the track accompanying the fourth level was a personal favourite of mine).
Love's length is its only notable flaw. Once you battle through the frustration and get a grip on the game, you soon realise how short it actually is. In speedrun mode, where you have unlimited lives but you are pitted against the clock, I managed to complete the game in fifteen minutes. Admittedly this was after a day's practice, but still the fact remains that it is a very brief game. After finishing the game there's little else to do but play it again, with the aim of improving your score or time. There is a leaderboard on Steam to keep things going, which already features some impressive times; the fastest time when I last checked was just under six minutes.
Love may be painful and short, but it is, nevertheless, an appealing and addictive game. Costing only £1.99 on Steam, you really do get value for money; the graphics are satisfyingly nostalgic, and the soundtrack is impressive for an indie game such as this. If you love platformers, and love a challenge, then Love is all you need.