Wednesday, December 14, 2011

These Robotic Hearts of Mine

Popular media has long laboured to give robots emotion. The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz gets his heart; C-3P0 and R2-D2 of Star Wars are thoroughly infused with human traits; and Johnny 5 of the Short Circuit movies claims, over and over, that he's alive. Can't avoid the robot with heart.

These Robotic Hearts of Mine, by contrast, goes in the opposite direction. A robotic heart can never replace a human's. This is not, consequently, a game you wanna play if you want to maintain a happy stance regarding artificial lifeforms and emotion.


Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl. They were in love. One day, a robot came along and befriended the two... though in doing so, it irrevocably split their relationship, and nothing was the same thereafter...

These Robotic Hearts of Mine is not a happy story, and you can tell it's not going to be just by listening to the music for a little while. This is a bleak story that starts out nice and quickly turns sour, the kind of small tale likely to be found in a Tim Burton movie. It's GOOD, don't get me wrong, but not an idealistic fairy tale by any stretch of the imagination.

The story aside - and the story is kind of a big thing in These Robotic Hearts of Mine - this is a puzzler. You're presented with a series of cogs in each stage, the cogs surrounded by hearts, and you have to spin the cogs so the attached hearts are all properly oriented. Once every heart LOOKS like a heart, you move on to the next level. The cogs can snag hearts that are attached to adjacent cogs, however, so this is harder than it probably sounds.


These Robotic Hearts of Mine is not a time-sensitive game, so the controls are appropriately casual: it's a point and click adventure. Tap the cogs and they'll turn. Tap 'em again and, hey, they'll turn again. Aside from navigating the menus that's all there is to the controls in this game, so there's little to say on this front.


Pretty damn basic. These Robotic Hearts of Mine is primarily a text-based tale, with minimal effort put into the visuals, as you can see below:

The hearts are graphical focus in the game, and they're simple enough that this could, in another age, probably work on a very old computer.

That said, the graphics aren't really SUPPOSED to be the focus in the game, and there are still some neat things done with the bare bone visuals - for example, laying out the action of the story via trails of hearts in certain levels.


These Robotic Hearts of Mine has only one 'song', and it's a depressing series of breezy noises that perfectly capture the bleak nature of the story. I wouldn't call it music so much as atmosphere, and it's okay at what it needs to do.

Challenge Rating

With enough fiddling it's not that difficult to beat These Robotic Hearts of Mine. Hell, you can breeze through the game without playing any of the levels, if all you want to do is read the story, as there's a tiny arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen that allows you to skip the current puzzle.

Those who savor a good puzzler won't be disappointed, however, as the game includes a counter that keeps track of the number of spins it took you to complete the level. You'll maximize your points by keeping the cog spins to an absolute minimum, providing a nice challenge for anyone who wants to compete against other players.


These Robotic Hearts of Mine isn't bad. It sports a neat story, and the puzzling dynamic is sufficient to amuse strategic players. Those who like rubix cubes will probably get the most out of this woeful love story.


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