Try-It Tuesday: Love You to Bits

Every so often, I break out of my gaming routine to try something new and different. These turn into my Try-It Tuesday sessions, and they are a mixed bag indeed!

Space Boy meets Robot Girl. Robot Girl is a fugitive, but Space Boy doesn’t care. The two fall in love and go on adventures together. One day, Robot Girl is blown up in a starship explosion. Space Boy becomes determined to find and assemble all of her parts, because love will find a way. It might be a strange, challenging adventure, but Space Boy is going to see it through.

I have nothing but high admiration for Alike Studios and their library so far: Tiny Thief and Love You to Bits. Both games offer much of the same experience, being adventure puzzlers with lots of charm and accessibility.

The simple story that drives Love You to Bits — a boy trying to rescue his “princess” — is downright heartwarming and more complex than at first glance. Love You to Bits is a dialogue-free game, preferring to tell stories through simple speechless cutscenes and environmental details. And boy does it work: This game is an absolute masterpiece in its field and a true joy to play.

Each stage of this game takes place on a different planet as the boy tries to secure another one of Nova’s (that’s the robot girl) parts. There are also optional items to grab that can trigger black and white cutscenes that show some of the couple’s past moments together. In fact, getting to know the bond that connects the two as you play the game adds to the motivation to see them restored in the end.

The planets are a bizarre mix of puzzles and settings, each one vastly different than the last. Some play with time, some with seasons, some with gravity, and so on. You never know what you’re going to get, but the process remains more or less the same: Explore, find interactive items and objects, and experiment with unlocking a path to the robot part. One stage had me finding three little critters playing hide-and-go seek and returning them to their alien mother, while another kept allowing me to rewind time in certain areas to show “before” scenes. There was an alien bar that paid homage to Star Wars, a quantum library that only showed rooms that were directly adjacent to you, a comic book-style dungeon romp, and so on.

The challenge level for these stages seems perfect. It’s never tear-your-hair-out frustrating, but you do have to keep poking around and backtracking to try to uncover secrets and figure out what needs to be used where. The boy’s inventory is usually kept small and light, only filling up with one or two items at any given time. I think I might have had three once. The game’s also like a memory challenge, since you have to keep track of what does what when you first fiddle with them, so that you can come back later when you find certain parts or make changes elsewhere. On average, I would clear a screen every 10-15 minutes, and there are several of them (the devs recently finished the game by releasing the final set of levels and completing the story).

More than the puzzles themselves is the art and animation. Again, without dialogue, Love You to Bits conveys so much in every level. The characters can be laugh-out-loud funny and make themselves understood with simple gestures. The fact that you can’t get stuck or die makes exploring and experimenting a relaxing experience. By the end of each stage, I’m usually a little sorry I have to leave, because the locales are so cute and interesting. But then, I want to see what lies ahead.

Anyway, I’m diligently working to complete this game in my spare time, and thought it deserved a mention in this series. Definitely check it out for a polished, intuitive puzzle experience!

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