Life's direction depends on choice and, in Love's Cadence, an exploratory game from 4urentertainment, decisions become turning points after two basic choices: evolve or destroy? By evolving, there is growth and the opportunity for continuance. Destroying, on the other hand, ends and aids closure. Join Cadence, the title character of this puzzling tale, in a brief hallucination about the outcomes of her decisions.
Love's Cadence is a platform game in that you use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to move, yet it also plays like a point-and-click adventure as you use your mouse to trigger several interactive spots to engage with a sparse population of secondary characters or alter the objects in Cadence's path. What you do at these spots develops the story and also determines how or whether you progress. There are two potential outcomes based on your choices: a grim ending or a more positive one. Since it's possible to reach the final room without discovering every area, be sure to explore all possibilities using [R] to reset and reconsider your choices.
The exploration aspect of Love's Cadence contains some fun-to-discover puzzles which also involve choices. This adds to an underlying theme about life's direction making the story much more immersive for the player. Increasing this effect is the enjoyably atmospheric soundtrack; it is so much a part of the experience that music is a key component at one stage of the game.
Analysis: This is a beautiful game that plays like poetry: actions, story and eye-pleasing graphics fit together cohesively. A "To be or not to be?" existentialism is evoked and, however you look at it, Love's Cadence has the potential to elicit a variety of polemic responses from its audience. An affect like that is a laudable accomplishment in any game/poem/artistic piece.
Created in only 96 hours for Newgrounds Game Jam 6, Love's Cadence is not long and it does have some shortcomings. For example, jump is especially bouncy and surfaces are slippery, causing unwanted sliding. A few items appear as if they could be interactive but, regrettably, are not. An overly critical eye might consider an abundance of melodramatics and motif to also be flaws. Yet the talented young team behind Love's Cadence—programmer Omar Shehata (who also brought us Concerned Joe), artists Chad Lewis and Miha Petrisic, and musician Deniz Akbulut—demonstrate a harmonic collaboration that is better experienced in game than over-analyzed here. Besides, if rough edges exist, they are easily overlooked because this lyrical game works so well as a whole and any imperfections fit right into the theme.
In poetry, "cadence" refers to a balanced rhythm. In dance, it is the measure of movement. Both these definitions connect to the experience of playing Love's Cadence because of its poetic sense and ballet-like unfolding of the story. Yet the musical meaning of cadence describes the game and defines its quest perfectly: "A progression of chords moving to a harmonic close, point of rest, or sense of resolution." With that in mind, Love's Cadence is easily appreciated for how its graphics, narrative elements and gameplay coalesce into a beautiful, conversation-stirring composition. It's good to question life's choices this way; perhaps all the world's a game and we are just its players.