Developer: Black Pants Studio
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Love and Hate are in a bit of a pickle. The diminutive Odd Couple stumbled upon a strange red button while out for a stroll and now the two of them are stuck in a hellish dimension of puzzles from which there is no return. Okay there is a return, but they’ll have to love and hate their way through three different worlds totaling 60 levels before they reach it.

About Love, Hate and the Other Ones isn’t all that dissimilar from a block pushing puzzle game. At least in the very beginning. Players have direct control over Love and Hate, who each have opposing effects on the numerous “Other Ones” found throughout each level. At first it’s a simple push/pull mechanic, with Love’s “I love you” drawing each Other One a single tile closer and Hate’s “I hate you” repelling them the same distance. What begins as deliberate body shuffling to create stairs and open pathways soon leads to complex and precise movements in order to position an air-blowing pot kind of thing (similar to an elevator) just so. Then there are the dead Other Ones who don’t respond to Love or hate and must be carefully worked around. Eventually even teleporting robots are thrown into the mix.

Some of the best puzzle games utilize simple mechanics and then incorporate them into more and more complex scenarios. This makes learning the ropes easy for the player by familiarizing them with their tools, then tasks them with figuring out how to apply said tools to new situations. It’s a system that has always works incredibly well and continues to do so in About Love, Hate and the Other Ones. Each level builds upon the previous one and new elements are introduced at a steady enough pace to keep things from ever getting stale. Add to that a spectacular “hand drawn” visual style and goofy sense of humor and it becomes something altogether special.

I did have a few issues with navigation and character switching crop up quite often, but About Love, Hate and the Other Ones isn’t timed and features an Undo button that immediately takes back a previous turn (as well as all the others if need be) which pretty much negates the problem. Sure it’s a little irksome to have to try a few times in order to get Hate in the right spot or summon an Other One with Love instead of simply walking, but with zero penalties for missteps it never got in the way of my enjoyment.

About Love, Hate and the Other Ones is a classic puzzle game done differently and done well. Even without the charming presentation it provides a clever and fairly unique series of special-relation riddles that make time melt away.

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