About Love, Hate and the other ones iOS Review

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When you think of the Apple App Store and its gaming market, how many titles come to mind? If your iPhone looks anything like mine, then around half of the titles you just thought of are puzzle games, or at least have a large puzzle element to them. There’s a simple reason for this, and that is that touch screens aren’t really suitable for many genres. The fact that puzzle games only need an occasional tap or swipe works excellently and makes it one of the only genres that is actually easier to play with a touch screen than a controller. So how does a puzzle game shine when so many others like it have failed, lost beyond the Top 200-mark, only ever to be seen by friends of the developers like an unlisted YouTube video? Well it’s pretty simple, really; you just give it a kick-ass art style!

Love and Hate are two shadowy blob-like characters that love to speak their mind. Love is a happy little guy with a flower for a haircut, and likes to tell anything and everything that he loves them in his unexpectedly deep voice. Hate, on the other hand, with his spikey head and evil eyes, hates everything. During the introduction animation, a little box with a large red button appears. Love can’t resist temptation and presses the button, taking them to a dark cave with no visible exit. Left with no other option, the couple proceed to the teleportation device in the hope that if they press it enough times they will be taken home.

In order to reach the end of each puzzle, you will need to use the unique skills possessed by both Love and Hate. The “other ones” are… well I’m not quite sure what they are, but they represent movable blocks that can be called closer using Love, and sent away using Hate. Together they possess the ability to push and pull the “other ones”, but once the two are separated, controlling blocks becomes the puzzle.

Blocks will often need to be stacked up in a specific way, taken further into the puzzle, or just moved out of the way, but gaps and other obstacles require you to give it some thought before you randomly start telling blocks how much you hate them, or you will find yourself restarting puzzles often. The characters can also be used as temporary blocks as they are roughly the same size. For example, you could use Hate to fill a gap whilst Love calls a block over. However, if you use a character because you have lost a block, you may find that only one can continue through the puzzle. Only one of the two needs to reach the button, but the larger puzzles are a combination of many smaller puzzles and may require both characters throughout.

As you progress through the caves and complete more puzzles, you will find new blocks with different abilities. Two of the four different blocks have significant changes to each puzzle and the way in which you play them, but the other two are little more than platforms. One of the good blocks is a cauldron-looking thing with eyes that blows air upwards, allowing you to travel up and down freely when above it in order to reach higher platforms. I couldn’t help but play these puzzles backwards by working out where the device must go in order to reach the button and then working out how to get it there. One other interesting block is a transporter that when spoken to, switches place with the selected character. With these new mechanics thrown in, you need to pay attention to where you stand before activating the transporter. You may need it to be in a specific position as well as your character reaching another spot, and this can often take around four or five very precise movements.

What makes this game stand out above most puzzle games, for me, is the art style and the lovely animations given to those two crazy characters. Simple things like Love’s bobbing flower as he clambers up platforms make this game worth recommending. The audio complements the art style nicely with its bouncy theme and cartoon noises. One negative thing I will say about the sound is that hearing someone say they hate you around 200 times in a few days may drive you crazy. It’s rather repetitive and Hate’s voice goes through me a little, anyway. Love, not so much – he was entertaining throughout, bringing a smile to my face often.

The team behind Love, Hate and the other ones have done a great job with this pocket-sized game. Sixty puzzles should keep you entertained for a handful of hours with ease – and a pleasurable few they would be. The gameplay itself reminds me of the Net Yaroze game, Pushy 2 on the PS1 – still one of my favourite games to this day due to its simplicity and difficulty. I would like to have seen more in the way of “other ones”. The transporting device created some difficult puzzles but alone was not enough. Unfortunately, I doubt there will be any more content added given that this game was developed as an academic project, but for its price, it’s a fantastic game that I am sure will stay on my phone for a long time.

7/10

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Version tested: iOS

Developer: Tobias Bilgeri

Publisher: Black Pants Studios

Genre: Puzzle