LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories, is an appropriate description of both the game and its title subject. Here is a rare game that defies all expectations while staying squarely within its (puzzle) genre. Inside, you’ll live through the eyes of a bunch of ordinary folks growing up, dreaming, falling in love, and living. But does the game manage to do it convincingly? This LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories review is my journey to answer that question.
LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories – What Is It?
You probably are still confused about what this game actually is. That’s fine, it’s a hard one to describe but easy to understand. Stripped down, LOVE is a puzzle game where you tread between the past and the future to unlock memories and understand the stories of its intentionally marginalized characters. Like Lacuna (which everyone should give a try) the game revolves around doing detective work to unveil what happened, but instead of a single narrative, you have to live through the lives of tens of ordinary folk.
Instead of playing one character, however, you play through the lens of an (almost) omnipotent observer looking through the past and future to connect stories. From time to time you’re also tasked with messing with the timeline to help people make more sense of their lives.
The core gameplay mechanic involves a rubik’s cube-apartment that’s half split between the past and the present. Why is this old man lounging on the roof with an urn? How did this neglected child grow up to be a happy man? These rather ordinary questions are what you are striving to answer by connecting the memories unlocked by solving the game’s simple puzzles.
What we LOVED
For this LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories review, I decided against breaking up the game’s strengths by element. Instead, this game is to be taken as a whole unit – a full experience.
There is something about experiencing the lives of many – who are sometimes like me, sometimes unrelatable, unfold in a much realistic fashion that just flicked across my heartstrings. Not all the stories in the game were tragic, happy, or extraordinary. However, they all combined all the emotions into something much more believable.
One thing I fell in love – pun not intended – with during my playthrough is that as I unlocked more puzzles, I saw more lives intertwine or perhaps just intersect once and never again. Not only did these interconnections make the puzzles more challenging, but it gave the random stories a sense of purpose. It made me feel like the puzzle was not in rotating around the apartment’s floors, but rather untangling and understanding the web of lives of that apartment’s denizens.
What We Didn’t LOVE
You might have noticed this LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories review is more on the shorter side of our other reviews. That’s because the game itself is small – both in content and concept.
Unfortunately, LOVE ends where it begins. Just as I expected new mechanics being introduced, I found myself at the end of the road. The game has a unique concept, for sure, but it still begs the question: does a cool concept make for a good game.
It could have been worse; LOVE did not overstay its welcome. The puzzle mechanics were a little frustrating (especially for someone admittedly bad with puzzles) but the game ends before that happens. I would have loved to see this concept carried on the back of different and more robust puzzle mechanics.
LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories is a small game with a big concept and good execution. Maybe the developers weren’t confident they could scale the game up with the same great quality, but I would definitely have loved to see more.
LOVE is a game that fans of puzzles and fine game design would appreciate. However, the experience might feel a bit incomplete despite its really strong start. Get this game if you are in the market for something unique (or if you enjoyed Before Your Eyes) rather than a full-bodied immersive experience.
If you enjoyed this LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories review, make sure to check the game out. LOVE is currently available on Steam and Nintendo Switch.
This review is based on the PC version of LOVE A Puzzle Box Filled With Stories. The key was provided by Rocketship Park