Fred Wood's Love
is one of the most outwardly basic looking games you can find on Steam this side of Super Hexagon. Its visuals don't exactly demand attention, and to an outsider probably seems just another soulless 2D platformer which would be better served adorning a no-name website as a free flash game than something they'd want to pay for. But like the polygonal twitch-fest I mentioned earlier, what sets Love apart is its attention to detail; the way it feels, how well each level is designed, and the potential that waiting just below the service that make it far more than the average browser-based diversion.
It shouldn't be unexpected, but you should know Love is not a long game. It consists of twelve short levels which can be blown through in about 20-30 minutes your first time. This is intentional however as you aren't meant to playthrough the game once and be done with it, but return again and again to aim for higher scores, faster times, and a better ranking. This is the focus of Love and why the short levels work so well; it makes it extremely easy to jump back in for a quick run every now and then to better your time, without having to commit hours to what could potentially be no better than the last time you played. I'm not typically a fan of speedrunning, but I've already gone through Love four times and definitely see myself coming back for more.
None of this would matter though if it wasn't for how well constructed the different aspects of Love are. Each level is unique in both structure and visual design, and yet they fit together perfectly and compliment each other with their diverse layouts. Similarly the graphics are very basic, but there's a subtle elegance to the way the character moves; how the different environment colors contrast to outline traps and the path forward and how the excellent soundtrack perfectly matches the mood of them, from melancholy ambiance to hyperactive electronica. The controls are sharp, whether using a controller or keyboard (the latter of which I rarely will even attempt to use), and something about the way you move just "feels right".
I'll come out and say I, ahem, Love Love
. It surprised me with its addictive and refined design, and has me eager to see what developer Fred Wood has planned for future updates. There is a ton of potential here for such a seemingly simple game and I have no doubt he is going to tap into it, already showing an admiral dedication to patching out bugs and adding in features that didn't make it right at launch. Love might not be a long game, or a very deep one, but it is certainly a very enjoyable little slice of platforming that is well worth the very low cost of admission.
Posted: February 24th, 2014