Indie platformer LOVE shows how something simple and short can be relaxing and fun.
History has shown that you don’t need a giant team of developers and a million dollar budget to make a good game, sometimes all you need is yourself. Undertale (2015) and Stardew Valley (2016) are great examples of indie games that were mostly created by a single person, and both have been commercially and critically very successful. However, not all indie games developed by ultra-small teams get this kind of recognition. One of these is LOVE which was developed and published by Fred Wood. Could it be a hidden gem of Steam? Let’s take a closer look.
In LOVE simplicity is the key word. You take control of fiveEight, a pixelated stick figure character, and your goal is to run and jump through a bunch of stages. After a death you return to your last checkpoint. You can place checkpoints to where you’re standing whenever you like. However, it’s not wise to spam checkpoints as you can accidentally end up creating a never-ending death loop – been there, done that.
At first the controls may feel a bit stiff. After a while you’ll get used to them and then the moving becomes quite precise. Nonetheless, if you’re used to how springs work in Super Mario Bros. (1985) it’s not very intuitive that in LOVE you lose jump momentum if you press jump while bouncing off a spring. Ironically, the game’s only special stage is actually based on the first level of Super Mario.
The main game features 16 short stages. There are also 7 remix stages, and the previously mentioned special stage. The stages feature only three colors: black, white, and a variating color. Black serves as a background. White has different meanings which you’ll learn by trial and error. For the most part, white means either instant death or a trampoline. The variating color means a solid object.
Some stages feature a few tricky spots, but overall LOVE isn’t very hard if you’ve played platformers before. Moreover, the game is very short. You can beat it in under 12 minutes after a bit of practice. The game encourages speedrunning as there’s even a special game mode just for that. For those who enjoy different kind of challenge, there’s a YOLO mode where you have to beat the whole game with a single life. Naturally, in YOLO mode there are no checkpoints.
LOVE is a very beautiful game especially if you’re into retro aesthetics. The graphics and the sound effects remind of the ones on Atari 2600. The music is modern but still fits perfectly. These visuals and sounds combined with the simple controls and the somewhat easy difficulty level create a very relaxing gaming experience.
In conclusion, if you enjoy platformers LOVE is worth checking out. It’s a simple yet fun game. On the downside the game is too short and has too little content. Luckily, the game is very cheap. I bought mine from sale for 98 cents. So add this game to your wishlist and give it a try when the next Steam sale hits.
Developer: Fred Wood
Publisher: Fred Wood
Platform: Microsoft Windows, macOS
Release date: May 2008 (original version), 7.2.2014 (Steam version [tested])
Age rating: N/A