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Mobile games great for a quick doses of entertainment. Rarely are there games that take a lot of time developing stories that are very in-depth. Love Engine expands on this aspect. It seeks to create a simple story about love through reuniting lovers while trying to deliver an abstract story. The puzzles are quick to solve and when they are not, there is always an option to restart and try again from the beginning. Every level’s objective is to use our threads of love to navigate the level while pushing the lovers to reunite. Our threads can create bridges and can be used rather creatively to achieve our goals. However, it can only push and within the constraints of the length of the thread. Trial and error is a big part of solving it once we have figured out the reach. Think of Unravel and Yarny’s limited yarn as a mechanic comparison. Love Engine is Renxiang Games’ debut game and is available on Android, iOS and PC.
Love Engine does a lot right. It’s simplistic and adorned with romanticism such as using threads led by hearts that we move around to create bridges or nudge the lovers till they reach each other. While the visuals are appealing, the music is the standout of the entire game. It is a beautiful piano serenade that flows sweetly and helps create a relaxing environment to help clear our minds as we figure out the puzzles. To complement the gameplay, the story is further strung together by mini abstract cutscenes at the beginning of each chapter. If you are willing to pace yourself, everyday a new piece of the story is unlocked upon loading the game.
It is easy to look over the flaws of Love Engine in the first two chapters. The levels are simple and the gradual increase of difficulty is done very well, however when we step into Chapter 3 until the end, the tutorial phase is done and there are unexplained elements added in. These items create obstacles and are easy to figure out through trial and error. Two main issues make Love Engine an increasingly frustrating experience. The first issue is the on-screen gamepad. It lacks the accuracy that it should have to prevent making moves accidentally that cannot be reversed (for example if you are in a corner). This leads to the second issue, where this style of puzzle games–with every move being critical to the solution–needs to have a move reversal mechanism, which helps prevent restarts. The only reason anyone would want to restart is when the player has painted themselves in the corner and not under factors out of their control like game design.
The story for Love Engine also creates some minor execution issues. The story is very abstract. The magical animated sequences in the chapters already paint a nice enough story. Sometimes, it is important to trust that a picture is worth a thousand words. While it is apparent that the written story is not in English (which is forgivable) however, it would help to find someone who could work on the script a little more delicately in order to make it more meaningful. The concept of having a finite story is great for one sitting games like this one and therefore pointless for the story to unlock page by page just to manipulate daily login.
Overall, Love Engine creates a beautifully simplistic and musically appealing puzzle game environment. The puzzles increase in difficulty in a relatively good learning curve. However, the gameplay experience is diminished by the on screen gamepad and no move reversal. While commendable to have a story, it also proves to be too abstract and lacks good execution.
Game description: Love Engine is a 2016 mobile puzzle game developed by Renxiang Games and published by Youzu Stars with a romantic story of a couple torn apart that you need to reunite over the course of five chapters.