I am now to the point where I cringe when I see a dialog box pop up in a game. Usually the writing is mediocre at best, your choices are meaningless and there's just mountains and mountains of text to wade through before you can move on. However, my major exception to this rule is a monologue. Characters that are talking and don't expect you to talk back usually have something more interesting to say, especially when you have no choice but to listen. Some of my favorite video game characters were nothing but voices in my head, SHODAN, Cortana and Andrew Ryan, just to name a few. There's something freeing about being forced to listen.

Loved is a platformer described as a "short story" by the author. You start off by being asked a simple question, "Are you a boy or a girl?" Whatever your answer, the voice in the game continues to give you commands and ask you questions throughout the game. The questions may not have any good answers, and the commands can be obeyed or disobeyed. Obedience makes the world around you clearer, less obfuscated. Disobedience creates distortion all around you as you try to move through the game.

The tension comes from the fact that the voice in the game is frequently ordering you to do things that are not in your best interest. Do you go the harder route, just because the voice told you to? If you don't, it gets harder to see. If you do, it's just difficult in a different way.

The platformer mechanics themselves are fairly straightforward, while the stark black and white graphics (with distortions appearing in color) are as sanitized as they are oppressive. The game does a good job of conveying the aggressively controlling personality of the voice, which makes your choice to obey or not even more difficult.

Why You Should Check This Out: Loved is a platformer with a disturbing theme of obedience to an abusive, omniscient voice. The graphics, gameplay and sound all serve this theme of an oppressive, smothering relationship. The choice is obedience or disappointment, dealing with the abuse or dealing with the consequences of disobeying the ominous voice. It may not be a happy choice, but at least it feels like a meaningful one.

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Shazam wrote:

I got a bit into it and the platforming got too frustrating. I ended up just quitting.

Me to. Very frustrating.

Maybe the designer should have just gone with a more obvious title, like I Made This. You Play This. We Are Enemies.

PS: Interview with the designer over at Gamasutra.