Like relationships themselves, representing the struggles of love in a digital format can be difficult. Andrew Morrish does just that in his newest game, Tough Love Machine.
Tough Love Machine offers up a simple premise: unite two hearts. Like so many puzzle games before it, in execution this becomes a challenge as you move the hearts around obstacles using independently controlled left and right “hands,” never letting them fall offscreen to their demise.
The room is silent when you begin, all 8-bit neon on a solid black background. The intro screen offers nothing but basic controls. As you move each hand, each step pushes forward a musical scale and the connection or eternal separation of the would-be lovers. Text along the bottom of the screen is far from encouraging, such as one level which reminds you that in the game, as in love, “There is no undo button.”
For your success, you are offered a short MIDI-style jingle and garish carnival-esque light show before being transported to the next challenge, leaving you with the sense that love will never be easy, even if it does have its rewards.