Love is Dead is a puzzle game. It was developed by Curiobot and was published by Armor Games Studios in 2018. It is the story of two lovers who happen to die, along with their pet dog and cat, just prior to the commencement of the apocalypse in which large numbers of humans spontaneously turn into mindless zombies.
While the two lovers become zombies as well, their love for each other managed to sustain their brains in such a way that they continued to maintain their loving (and thinking) faculties for each other. When they rose from their grave, they were happy to find each other, but were devastated to find their pets missing. Noticing a pet cemetery close by, they embark on a quest to reunite their loving family.
As with most games, the first thing you do in Love is Dead is to create your player character. This essentially consists of choosing a color for your character and your character’s preferred pronoun. The standard options available are him, her, or they. The player also has the option to define their own pronouns, and a rather sophisticated configuration screen is available for that purpose. I can imagine a software developer saying to (herself, himself, themself, etc.), “I’m going to solve this problem once and for all.” Very thorough work.
After character creation, the player is greeted with a rather macabre back story and the couple is off to solve puzzles in order to get their pets back. Love is Dead may be played as a single player game in which one player controls both of the lovers, or in two-player cooperative mode where two human players controls each of the lovers. In each puzzle the lovers find themselves separated and somewhere there is a pancake. The objective of each puzzle is roughly the same: grab the pancake and reunite the lovers.
There are many dangers that will threaten the lovers on the way to becoming reunited. Among such dangers are ghosts and cold, unloving zombies. Touching either one of these will kill the lover who touched it. If a lover is carrying a pancake, however, they will be able to absorb one point of damage without dying, but will lose the pancake in the process.
A certain number of pancakes are required to move on to the next area. For instance, when I couldn’t find my pets at the local pet cemetery, I had to surrender 12 pancakes to progress to the next area, which is the big city. Collecting a pancake in a level helps you to progress later, and it confirms that you have mastered the skills the game designer wanted you to have before moving on to later levels. For this reason, they are worth collecting whenever possible.
Players move from level to level via an over-world map. It was not obvious to me starting out what the controls are in the game. Fortunately pressing buttons will get results rather quickly. Player movement is controlled by using either the W, A, S, D keys or the arrow keys. To switch between the two lovers, a player can click on the lover she wishes to play as by pressing the left mouse button. Pressing the space bar in the over-world will enter the level the player is currently standing on.
Love is Dead is narrated by a plucky bard called The Wanderer who has what sounds like a soothing feminine northern Georgian or southern Appalachian accent. The sound of her voice makes me feel like my heart is just so well blessed each and every time I play. The ambiance is soothing and relaxing, which might make the puzzles less frustrating.
Love is Dead seems like it would be a good puzzle game for children. It promises a wholesome story with a happy ending, and thus far as I have played through it has been delivering on that promise. After failing to find my pets in the local pet cemetery my lovers went in search of them in the city where all of the “Deeelicious” humans are.
The subsequent levels place quotas on the number of humans the lovers must eat to progress to the next level. There is no animated violence in eating a human, though I’ve known less to offend some parents. My son is excited about Love is Dead and I mind him playing it at all.
Playing Love is Dead is like walking through a relaxing park filled with warm pastel colors and soft friendly sounds. Even when things seem challenging they never seem too overwhelming. Being the more hardcore gamer that I am, this game feels a little light and too relaxed. But for those who enjoy a good low-key puzzle game, Love is Dead might be just the easy listening easy on the eyes title you’ve been looking for.