A humorous portrait of social and existential issues in a media where death and sexuality are usually quite one-dimensional, Bernie Needs Love also stands out from the crowd with its charming lo-fi graphics, lovingly composed chiptune music, and hardcore difficulty level — which are sure to satisfy players who grew up in the 8-bit era.
Aesthetically, Bernie Needs Love is indeed a loveletter to the games of the 80s and early 90s, but also an experiment on getting the most out of a self-imposed set of limitations: the palette is a mix of CPC, C64, and NES colors with a few odd ones to highlight certain elements, while the original chiptune soundtrack is entirely created with synthesizers that faithfully emulate the hardware of iconic 8-bit and 16-bit machines.
Regardless of its nostalgic appeal, Bernie Needs Love is an up-to-date game from the depicted subjects (i.e. the anguish of life in the constant shadow of imminent death, one's need for love and sex, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.) to the modern conveniences it provides, such as automatic support for the Xbox 360 controller, quick and easy switching between the windowed and fullscreen modes, audio options (toggle-enabled and independent controls for Music and SFX), and saving the player progress. Even the hair-pulling difficulty is balanced with infinite lives, immediate restart upon death, and no loading whatsoever after the first loading screen upon start (which shouldn't take more then 3 seconds, by the way).
The game is already available, but will remain in beta while stages and features are added. Once we reach the 30 planned stages (we're currently working on stages 11 to 20), the beta phase and the correspondent discounted price will be over. Development is expected to be complete in Q4 2016.
The 30 stages are divided as follows:
- Stages 01 to 10 -> Downtown (Implemented)
- Stages 11 to 20 -> Carnival (WIP)
- Stages 21 to 30 -> Beach (WIP)
Each area is subdivided in two to three subareas. For example, here is the subdivision of the first ten levels:
- Stages 01 to 07 -> The Park
- Stages 08 and 09 -> Downtown (aka Red Light District)
- Stage 10 -> Cemetery and Boss Fight
The second area, focused on the Carnival festivities of Bernie's city, starts with a street parade and will later take our protagonist to the arena where samba schools exhibit their humongous thematic cars to thousands of viewers. The first section of that carnival-themed area, however, takes place in a well-off residential area that introduces dystopian tones to Bernie's adventure that could very well be deemed cyberpunk — not necessarily moreso than our present times, but still: aerial and terrestrial drones, crowd-control forces, informational holograms, and genetically modified peacocks are just examples of such elements and a new dimension to the plot of the game.
Finally, another subarea will be added for the second boss battle — but we're still deciding on the exact environment. The same model will be applied to the 3rd and last area, 'The Beach': from a sunny morning to the new year's eve celebration, levels 3-1 to 3-10 will span across such settings and finish with one last mano-a-mano with the reaper.