Flash Forward covers the vanguard of games you can play in your browser RIGHT NOW. This week we look at some 2011 highlights for the holiday comedown.
These Robotic Hearts of Mine is a shiny bauble. Its charm is unadorned simplicity, and asking only that it be played and enjoyed. In each of the 36 levels there are gears sitting next to hearts. Clicking on a gear rotates the gear, and moves the attached hearts around the screen. You want to have all the hearts right-side-up, making the sign of love, and this means figuring out how to share them among all the gears, because the hearts start each level facing different directions.
Look at how the simple gameplay spins and builds upon itself, making more and more complex puzzles. Is it a metaphor for the ease of infatuation and the trials that come with long-term commitment? Yes. Does it matter? Not especially. The game doesn't rely on its metaphor for enjoyment. Progression through the game also doles out little bits of story that are completely superfluous. A story as old as time itself: Boy meets girl, boy and girl find robot, robot leaves, boy finds robot factory and ignores girl while he repairs all the robots. It's like something out of Joseph Campbell.
These Robotic Hearts does not club you over the head with its sincerity, nor does it outstay its welcome. It is a simple and endearing little game. I came into it a cynic, but watch the drab little pixel hearts pulse to life when they're righted and tell me it doesn't make your own heart do the same.