Video Game Review – Love Is Dead (PC)

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Video games involving the reanimated dead are commonplace in today’s gaming landscape. State Of Decay, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, Call Of Duty… The list goes on and on, but they all share one thing in common; the undead are a near unlimited source of cannon fodder. It’s rare to see things from a different perspective in the genre, and it is always a gamble when developers attempt it.

Love Is Dead sets out to do just that, but with a romantic twist.

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Developed by Armor Games, Love Is Dead is set after the zombie apocalypse. Players take control of an undead couple, whose brains have remained in a good enough condition to remain in love with each other. This reunion is not complete though, as the family dog and cat, Dogface and Catface, are now missing! The couple must make their way through several different areas to be reunited as a family, avoiding obstacles such as ghosts, and other zombies, while picking up some delicious pancakes along the way.

The game started its (after)life as a series of flash games; I Saw Her Standing There, I Saw Her Too (With Lasers), and I Saw Her Across the World. While the game slightly differs mechanically from these titles, Love Is Dead‘s uplifting, light-hearted atmosphere is still very much present, and is very successful in making a terrifying concept much more palatable and silly.

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The aim of the game is simple; complete objectives in each stage, then reunite with your partner. Each level contains an optional pancake to collect, and the occasional photo to discover. At the end of each world, a sufficient amount of pancakes is required to progress on to the next world.

This carries through the entirity of the game, but more obstacles and enemies are gradually introduced into the mix as the story progresses. Ghosts and zombies that constantly patrol the graveyards? Love Is Dead has ’em. Humans that are wandering around, practically begging to become a snack? You’ll see plenty of them in here. Humans that are more than happy to shoot you down with a rifle or bash your head in with a baseball bat? You better believe that Love Is Dead has its fair share of them!

These are all recognisable factors from the zombie game/movie genre, and, when coupled with the narrator’s commentary, make the game feel considerably welcoming to players, regardless of the difficulty. Many of the puzzles are similar to some of the most famous games in history, such as Frogger and Pacman, but these are used sparingly enough for the game not to feel like it is ripping them off.

The puzzles can get challenging, but they never feel unfair or impossible. Players can take things at their own pace, and the game never punishes failure, it merely restarts the level so you can try again straight away.

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Love Is Dead has a very unique visual style that harkens back to its history as a flash game. The playable characters are a simple set of shapes, the levels are based on a Crossy Road-esque isometric layout, and the level select ranges between a simple list and a colourful (yet simple) board game. This simplicity in the game’s aesthetics is a perfect pairing for the basic story of an undead couple searching for their undead pets.

Another noteworthy feature of Love Is Dead is the ability to choose your own pronouns when creating your undead couple. While these pronouns don’t affect the look of the characters too much (they are, after all, just cylinders with a ball on top), this addition into the game makes it feel more inclusive, and therefore appealing to a much wider audience, many of whom are vastly underrepresented in gaming as a whole. It’s an approach that I’ve applauded before (see my Solo review!), and will continue to celebrate whenever it happens.

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While the levels that push the game’s story along are consistent quality-wise, there are a number of extra levels that aid players in getting extra pancakes or collecting photos that disrupt the flow of the entire experience. For the most part, these detours from the main story don’t feel that important, and are a bit disappointing when compared with the other stages.

Overall, Love is Dead is a charming little game with a great visual style, quirky concept and challenging difficulty curve. While it doesn’t really push any boundaries in the puzzle game genre, it is still an absolute delight to play through. The pop culture references that are sprinkled throughout the game are well-placed and appropriate for the story, the various gameplay changeups that pop up as the story progresses feel pretty refreshing and the narrator never gets annoying either.

Pros:

  • Clever, humorous writing.
  • Simple, yet challenging gameplay.
  • Inclusive character selection.
  • Plenty of levels to get through.

Cons:

  • Certain levels disrupt the flow of the game.

8/10

Love Is Dead is available now for PC via Steam.

A review copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

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