We get in a fight and claw up each other’s perfect regenerating bodies
Love is Zero feels like how Spring Breakers was supposed to make me feel.
Which is to say it is;
Transcendent, hypnotic, lost — in all the best ways.
This game comes with a trigger warning from the artists (violence, cruelty, blood, institutional abuse, eating disorders, fat hate, bullying, misogyny, ostracism), but that isn’t to say that you’ll encounter all of these. The nature of Love is Zero is that it is unique every play through, your decisions creating parts of your identity as you move through the world of a school on the moon. You fall in love, you hurt people, you get hurt.
Works like Spring Breakers, trashy multi-textural raves that are meant to represent an age, to identify the insanity of youth fail to reach the level of comprehension. They glorify the violence without context. They deconstruct what they don’t fully understand. As with most of what Porpentine makes, I have a hard time explaining it, but it feels like it makes sense. I have the soundtrack, the macros from Love is Zero coursing through my veins, attempting to create a cogent thought. But I’m stuck in a warp of encompassing sound, the image of blood spattered uniforms and angry teenage femininity.
Porpentine writes on Tumblr:
You don’t have that much control as a teen. You wake up years later and everything is full of blood.
It’s about bullying. We do horrible things to each other, not because children are horrible but because we live in a horrible society where we copy adult behaviors and they teach us to hurt other children.
It’s weird to attribute depth to the game simply because of it’s candy-colored violence. The closest comparison in games I can find is Hotline Miami, and that game captures the psychedelic, near-agony that seems to be built into the fibers of Love is Zero, but Porpentine did it better. It feels maddening, it feels hopeless in many ways and it captures the anger of youth in a way that other attempts have only glossed over.
You are given the choice between studying, bullying and playing tennis, but it feels like there is no choice. High school is written in the language of bullies and victims, and if you’re not hurting someone, you’re the one getting hurt.
Play Love is Zero. That’s really the only way to explain it.