There have been a slew of games we encountered this year that played with the idea of an unreliable narrator, but none quite so eloquently as Loved.
It would be incorrect to say that “Loved” was a browser based game like I have never played before; many of the platforming mechanics are very familiar to anyone who has ever held a controller in their hand. However, the way that the creator of “Loved” tells a story resonates to the player more deeply than words on a page.
Developed by Alexander Ocias, an Australian hyphenate artist and programmer whose other works include interactive eBoy-styled pixelart and Flash-based art installations, Loved opens with an eerie ambient drone and asks the question: “Are you a MAN or WOMAN” and then replies “Wrong, you are a girl.”
“I wanted to build something confrontational,” says Ocias, “That would engage players to give thought to what they are doing both in and out of game. The result is Loved – a short story in the form of a flash platformer.”
Loved comes on like a slutty n+ fever dream, whose narrator is a domineering but forgiving bondage mistress.
The gameplay is simple enough: guide your creature through a world of spikes and deadly obstacles using the arrow keys to move, duck, and jump. The graphics are the only thing more simple than the controls: 8-bit b+w. However, as the story progresses you are tormented by an unknown voice. Your task is to first escape the gentle easing of the voice and free yourself from its indoctrination. Perhaps the most striking effect in the game is the coloration that has a co-relation to one’s subservience or freedom from the imposition of the narrator by virtue of defiantly going against its coercion. When you aim too hard to please, does it drain all color from your life?
While the game starts out as a series of objects and platforms created with black pixels against a white background, the world starts to gain more color in the form of randomly placed colored pixels. These pixels can be distracting, especially when they cover up dangerous obstacles. Luckily, the obstacles are easy enough to avoid due to their red color. “Loved” takes you on an interesting journey through a world of challenging (but not too difficult) level design.
Thanks to well placed checkpoints, the game is difficult to master, but not impossible. The effects and writing will have you wondering what happens to your character by the end of the game.
All in all, “Loved” was a short but enjoyable and thought-provoking experience – demonstrating many of the best traits of our favorite indie games from a very promising new voice to the indie gaming spectrum.
Loved is a browser game you can play free: