Game overview: Lack of Love

Tue, 2017/03/07

To pick back up on a series consisting of, so far, a single article, here's an overview of the 2000 Dreamcast game "Lack of Love," created by Love-de-lic and published by ASCII Entertainment. Of course, despite the game self-abbreviating to L.O.L, it is no laughing matter, and neither is the terrible pun I just employed. That said, without further ado, a game overview:

The game begins in space, as a ship with “L.O.L” painted across its side floats on by. Inside the ship is a robot, who sets the ship's trajectory to a nearby planet with a clear signature of life. Upon arrival, a series of excavation and other surveying robots are deployed, presumably to collect various resources from the planet. At this point, after a cool loading screen featuring spinning letters, the perspective shifts onto a small, swimming creature who is the “protagonist,” if you will.

"Lack of Love" was a Japanese-only release for the Dreamcast, but the gameplay, for the most part, speaks for itself, without any real language requirements. As a nameless four-legged (or four-armed, depending on your perspective) creature, you explore the planet before you, interacting with it in various ways. This kind of interaction comes in the form of killing other creatures and taking their life force, making friends with other creatures, and even urinating, as is natural for most creatures. The interaction, as it turns out, is the most important aspect of the game. Lack of love, as the title itself implies, is the main theme of the game and in order to progress and physically evolve, you must help out other creatures. At the beginning of the game, this can be as simple as defeating a larger creature that has been terrorizing other smaller ones. After helping a certain amount of creatures, you can then evolve, furthering the theme of growing through caring for other beings. The only gripe I have is with how the game controls sometimes, as it can be clunky to perform actions, with many ending up missed. However, along with the gameplay comes a fitting soundtrack.

The soundtrack for Lack of Love was composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, previously a member of the synth band Yellow Magic Orchestra. It consists of 13 tracks, most of which have a slow and somewhat dreamy sound, giving a feeling of exploration while also, at times, a sense of urgency, with a generally nature-focused feel. There isn't a lot to say about the soundtrack aside from how well it adds to the game's atmosphere and feel. That said, how well do the visuals pair up with the gameplay?

Considering the Dreamcast had games like Sonic Adventure and other rather visually appealing games in its lifetime, Lack of Love admittedly does not utilize the Dreamcast's full capabilities; there are multiple in-game visual textures that make the game feel just about its age. However, the visuals are still good enough to support a proper portrayal of the games' themes, which is arguably the more important aspect when it comes down to it.

Overall, Lack of Love is seemingly intended to be a visualization of the lack of love in the world itself, spreading the typically corny idea that sharing is caring. However, instead of simply being written on a sign or spoken out loud, this ideology is portrayed in the form of a video game, which, for the most part, is a great medium to go with, providing a nearly first person perspective. If you happen upon a copy of this game in any form, give it a try; its strange simplicity will be your intrigue.