恋(Lian) is a beautiful Chinese Character that means "feeling attached to." It expresses a strong emotion of humans that they are connected with someone, something, and some event, and I think it perfectly describes the game. 恋 Lian was created at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic after I had just gotten out of a painful and toxic relationship. It is easy for people to underestimate the power of distance until the Pandemic hits.
IT DISTORTED MY WORLD.
The core mechanism of Lian is distance. Players will receive negative feedback that distorts the lens when separated apart, and it will be recovered if they stay in each other's Aura. All the game mechanics, level design, and story design are related to this mechanism. Based on the core mechanic of distance, three levels are developed to discuss three topics related to intimate relationships. In order to conquer these levels, players need to find and acquire the emblems that represent the topic of each level.
A relationship between two individuals is combat against themselves, each other, and other distractions. The metaphor of ego, sacrifice, cheating, and the feeling of losing, disappointment, surprise, anger, and scare are all presented by metaphors in level design. Players need to stick together while not losing themself. In this level, players are introduced to the mechanism of Aura and their own Personal Space (Blue and Orange tiles). The ego (character size) of players will shrink if they stay in the incorrect Personal Space (Tile of opposite color). Sometimes players can choose to sacrifice their personal space and make decisions to separate apart in order to achieve goals (bonus).
Difficulties in life hit like bullets. There is no way to run away other than protecting each other and enduring it together. In order to get the emblem of this level, players need to go through a range of bullet hell that pushes players on hit. The core gameplay is to keep calm and stay together. The design of this level focus on the meta-conversation of players in reality. Players' reaction towards the bullet hell and traps consists of the narration of this level.
Other than the distance, another cold-blooded killer of relationships is Time. In this level, players are introduced to a very long tunnel without any indication of speed and space. Players will be assigned a different speed after entering the tunnel. They need to wait for each other and endure the boredom caused by the tunnel. It is another game mechanism with a focus on the Meta Conversation between players in reality. During the playtest, players endure frustration and uncertainty on this "endless journey" until they reach the end of the tunnel and see the hourglass emblem. Very naturally, they realize the message of this level, and it is the most beloved level in the whole game experience.