Review: The Floor is Jelly

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The beauty of the indie game scene is that you can have entire games built around a single gimmick, and they lean into them so hard they become something special. The Floor is Jelly is exactly what it says it is, and it’s not just something that shows up from time to time in levels. Every solid surface in the entire game is not actually solid, but is instead wibbly-wobbly jelly for you to spring off of. It affects your movement, the layout of levels, the background details, and even makes some of the world-specific themes possible. And that’s the mark of a solid game (ironically enough), having a foundation you can build out further features from, even if it is jiggly-wiggly jelly.

jelly

We’re skipping the plot synopsis here because about all you get is what’s in the title. You control some kind of dollop or flower petal or fortune cookie, I don’t really know but whatever it is really wants to get from point A to point Somewhere Else. The levels you pilot your blot around are connected by open windows, so generally your goal is to get from the start to the window leading to the next challenge. Sets of levels are connected to hubs, and once you complete all the sets the door to the next hub will unlock. There’s no narrative reason for any of this, but with this much jelly laying around it’s not like you need to worry about narrative.

This is essentially Super Meat Boy with kinder, more gelatinous levels. You can move at an incredibly brisk pace (almost too brisk), jump pretty high, and can cling to walls. Those are all the tools you have to get you to the window of egress, but of course the nature of the world is going to be a huge factor here. Whenever you jump or land, the landscape undulates from the force, and you jiggle right along with it. On flat ground this can be used as a trampoline to launch you to great heights, and on walls it can wing you across significant gaps. And of course the jelly mechanics go deeper than that, challenging you to slam into jellied floors hard enough to warp them around spikes or bend far enough to let you through a window on the other side of what would normally be a solid wall.

jelly3

You’ll be working with the jelly mechanics on literally every screen, and while it obviously takes some getting used to it also facilitates some really entertaining maneuvers. But this quaint little title has far more surprises in store than just that. Each of the worlds or level sets or whatever you want to call them have their own themes, and the further into the game you get the more creative they become. Early levels start you out with high jumps and some spikes to deal with, but then introduce levels that rotate, maze-like sets where you collect ribbon-like spirits, water that reverses your vertical momentum, and a blisteringly clever set where platforms are dotted lines and phase in and out of existence when you leap on them. I won’t spoil where this all goes by the end but there is a meta factor that starts to play in, and the levels only become more surprising.

It’s not designed to be a hard or punishing game thankfully, probably to balance out the learning curve on the jelly physics. You’ll probably get through the whole thing in about two hours, and there are some devilish secrets to turn up if you’re so inclined. It’s a very simple package though, without much in the way of options or even controller support and no extras of any kind. Instead, all the quality here is in the core experience, expressed with clean lines and bold colors, and backed by an expert soundtrack that nails the atmosphere of each and every level theme. It’s the platforming that you’ll focus on here, and it’s good enough to hold it for those precious few hours. The Floor is Jelly makes the most of its gimmick, and builds upon that to offer a short and sweet course of platforming ingenuity.

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