Hot Ice Love Story is an enjoyable, overhead view, ice sliding puzzle game that puts you in a top down environment that forces you to find your way to the exit. What is an ice sliding puzzle? I’ve found them in overhead role-playing games where because of an icy floor, when you push off in a direction, you keep moving in that direction until something stops you. Its easy, its engaging and it gets you thinking. In this case, your character isn’t on an icy floor, your character is the ice itself.
The plot of the game is simple yet horrific in a way, since you’re a cube of ice, you’re put in one glass while your significant other is put into another glass. Both glasses are filled, but the only problem is that the other glass is sitting in the sunlight, so you watch your love melt in front of you. Most games would end like this, but Hot Ice Love Story begins on this sad note and then you spend each puzzle not trying to find just an exit, but a pit of fire to melt yourself into. Yes a game where suicide is the objective instead of saving your beloved.
In each level are three hearts, you only collect the hearts for a rank and to drive you to play levels more than once. Hot Ice Love Story feels like a mobile game with these hearts, but if you’re smart enough to reach the exit, then you’re smart enough to grab all of the hearts before you leave. I think that adding fastest times would improve the replayability. Being able to shave seconds off your time would ensure plenty of people replay the levels.
For every level you beat, you’ll unlock the next with ten levels in each of at least four chapters. Each of these chapters not only has a new theme, but different mechanics that I was shocked by. I don’t expect much from games this cheap, but there’s a lot here. There are porcupines that when hit they change your trajectory 90 degrees clockwise. You’ve got portals that you can pop in and out of, Even blocks that rise and lower will really twist your brain to figuring out the puzzles.
Its more than the features, there are enemies too. Everything from typical mummy blocks that quickly pace left and right, to adorable wolf blocks that move in circles. At some point, you’ll be haunted by ghost blocks that bounce around at angles and can travel through walls that aren’t used as borders. There’s even floor spikes that raise and lower. It all blends together to make this a game about timing just as much as puzzle solving.
The game plays pretty simple, you’ve got arrow keys to slide. That’s it. A space bar will restart the level if you need it. There’s nothing more to say, it couldn’t be simpler than that. Even with switches, the only thing that you’ll need to do is slide over to trigger them.
Each enemy you hit is an instant loss, but I wish the game conveyed your loss better. Its just a sound effect and a funny face on your cube. There’s nothing that bluntly asks you to restart the level. Between levels you’ll see how well you did and while the game controls with only keys, you still have to use a mouse for between the levels. I wish that I could just hit the enter key to visit the next level.
There’s a twist though, at the end of the first chapter, you’ve got a vertical platformer that lets you drop down. Then at the end of the second and forth chapters, you no longer have to drop down, but instead you’re given a jump button via the up arrow and forced to platform. While these platformers feel quite limited, they’re still a lot of fun that breaks up what can be considered monotonous puzzles. Having the up arrow key as your only means to jump isn’t idealistic, but it does suffice. There’s no low or high jump either, any tap of the up key will send you as high as you can leap. The end of the second chapter has you racing lava as it raises. The finale of the third chapter is a much easier maze. I say maze, but it still feels simple and fun.
The only glaring issue is that even if its an overhead view, the graphics don’t look overhead, they look like as if you’re seeing them from the side. You’ll soon get used to it. The game has its own sort of cartoon art style that I found pretty charming. The graphics are clean, crisp and offer a good color pallet that changes from chapter to chapter. You’ll be sliding through a desert, a forest and even a snowy winter wonderland. Its not just the art, but the details to the level generation. These aren’t randomly generated levels of course, but the wall tiles are random. One level tile 1A might be a lush green tree and the next time you play it there might be a withered brown tree. While its hardly a selling point, it enhances the experience.
For each level you’ll hear different theme songs and while I can’t say its the best music I’ve heard, its interesting hearing a tuba, saxophone and piano. The music fits this game’s cartoon style. With that being said I noticed that the ice land chapter had “Up on the rooftop,” as its theme. I thought that could have been a more original song choice. Music and sound can always be turned off. The whole thing screams a sort of cartoon silliness except for the fact you watch your friend melt to death.
Now for the bad, on Desura, when I start the program, there’s an error, but it might just be myself or Desura. I can still open the folder with the program and the game plays just fine. If anyone wants to play in full screen, they won’t be able to. I couldn’t figure out how to complete the second level of the fourth chapter, so that’s as far as I got. I would appreciate the ability to skip to a new level, but you need to complete one before the next unlocks.
Hot Ice Love Story is an enjoyable game for puzzle fans with a clean cartoon style and a lot of charm. Its fun and it scratches that puzzle solving itch that we all have. The difficulty isn’t too challenging and it could even be a game suited for children if it wasn’t for the cartoon death scene. I’d like to thank Raven for giving me a copy of the game.