Life is nothing to be trifled with, as it passes in the blink of an eye. Lub vs Dub doesn't pretend to tackle this notion, but since it's set within the world of one's heartbeat, connecting those dots isn't much of a stretch. Most endless runners will have you collect fruit and gold coins as your hero jumps along to some cute, catchy soundtrack. Thanks to its streamlined and minimalist aesthetic, Lub vs Dub stands out in a sea of copycats. But does this title have a heart of its own?
Lub vs Dub's success rests on a gamer's patience and desire to fail on a consistent basis. In single player mode, you are given just three lives, and as you travel through an unknown person's heart rate, you must flip or jump your way out of any reading that isn't a straight line. Your score for each level is based on the length of your travel multiplied by the amounts of hearts you collect in the level.
Since this is a runner which gets progressively fast within seconds, there is no room for error. The photo below has my white speck ready to hit a bump in the road, and the only way I can avert danger is to quickly tap the flip button so I can live just a little bit longer.
Power ups are also available, and if you have any intention of surviving beyond a few seconds, it's imperative to pick these up. Whether it's an addition to slow down the heart rate or give Lub (that's the white speck's moniker) a small stretch of flat line goodness, any chance to grab these puppies will make your single player experience a better one.
The catch is that even with these extras, single player is way too difficult for its own good, and if you absolutely hate dying within 30 seconds of a game, Lub vs Dub could leave you frustrated for quite a spell. This is not a title that lets you luxuriate within its world, but if you're a tequila or espresso shot lover, the ephemeral jolts of euphoria and frustration satiate your gaming soul.
Lub without Dub is essentially like Jerry Lewis without Dean Martin, or hot apple pie sans French vanilla ice cream -- it's functional, but when paired with its perfect partner, it completely shines. In multiplayer mode, Lub vs Dub is an entirely different experience thanks to its ultimate goal -- the first player to collect 50 hearts wins the match.
Since it does take a bit of time to collect these hearts, the game won't end within a few seconds. As you and your partner share a device, which by the way is hopefully an iPad due to all the much needed tapping, you will also compete for power ups which can effectively deter your opponent's progress. With all these gameplay options, this title's true heartbeat is discovered.
If you're a wallflower or a diehard soloist, Lub vs Dub's deepest pleasures won't be unearthed by your hands. A more diverse and involving single play mode is needed to truly put this title in the must have category. Even if this flaw isn't improved with a future update, it's still a worthy download for just $0.99.
Maybe the developer is trying to tell us the best things in life usually involve more than one person, and thanks to my middle aged failings I'm not going to argue. But dying in twenty seconds, even if you're still single and love to mingle, is pretty lonely business. Even for an endless runner.