Tough Love Machine
'Do you recall the first time we ever met, darling? Was it... fate that brought us together? Kismet, perhaps?' 'Nope. It was those giant mechanical novelty hands shoving us into each other.' '...How strange. I don't remember those at all!' In Andrew Morrish's new physics puzzle designed for Ludum Dare, you're just a love machine. A Tough Love Machine. Literally! Well-armed with cartoonish pair of mechanical gloved hands, your objective is to join true love in the form of two hearts by pushing and sliding them around levels that are, er, also you... to bring them both together in a wave of profoundly amorous synchronicity. Or to light up the entire level in an exciting disco-floor suffusion of color. You know. Whichever.
Two-fisted control is provided courtesy of the [WASD] and [arrow] keys to move both the left and right hands independently, and though you can't take back a move you can always reset the level with [R]. Your arms can move into any free space they can reach, as well as retract, but you can't move through a spot that's already occupied by an arm unless you retract it first. Just as in life, your arms can only reach so far before you run out of stretch. Unlike life, you'll be able to tell how close you are to that point by a cute little noise they make each time you reach out further, which increases in pitch. It's a handy little addition (har har har) which we're nevertheless glad hasn't been implemented in what we loosely term 'real life'. The level design here is brilliant. The by-now standard trope of demoralizing commentary featured on each new level seemed a bit derivative and inconsistent with the theme, but nobody ever said machines were perfect and it's reassuring to note that when the robot takeover happens all the dispiriting, GladOS-like remarks will be a dead giveaway as to just who's human and who's mere silicon and 30% post-consumer recycled plastics. The lack of a soundtrack may feel a bit empty for some, while others may find it a refreshing aid to concentration. We were particularly impressed with the craftiness of the levels with such a simple mechanic, and we'd love to see the idea expounded on a little more with more levels and a few added gameplay elements thrown in, perhaps in a conceptual sequel. With a cunning mechanic like this it certainly seems like a natural for the smartphone medium, with sharable user-made levels. Get ready to put your hands, er, hearts together for Tough Love Machine!