January 30, 2014 6:45 PM | John Polson
The Floor is Jelly left me with an interesting but appropriate feeling, that given the game's name, the star of this platformer is the world that Ian Snyder has created and Disasterpeace has orchestrated. The spec of a controllable character seemed to exist to allow me to play in the world, free of any tired tales attached to the genre. I felt moments of delight when I would add to, subtract from, and change the world, which was just part of the greater experience of sensing the world by bouncing around it and hearing it.
I was in jelly nirvana.
The Floor is Jelly has over eight sections, each with several levels of their own new mechanics to keep things playing fresh, accompanied by more soothing colors and subtle sounds. You must learn how to jelly-jump foremost to reach each exit, bouncing with the momentum the jelly provides to launch high in the air. Tutorials are handled masterfully, in that there aren't any, save a frog who shows how it can jump. I don't recall seeing a single text bubble or anything that interrupted play.
Other mechanics are depicted in the video above, but the one I enjoyed the most that the video shows was the switching platform section (there are others later that I don't want to spoil). Stages here have several outlines of platforms that I could walk through when white and which would become active when I jumped and turned black. Getting to the goal was less about exploring a wide open space and more about methodically activating the limited platforms. A teaser for later levels, you ask? How about this: in space, no one can hear you jelly.
As much as I loved the jelly, I really loved the parts of the world that weren't jelly. The rain complemented the minimal backgrounds, it animated plants, and (if my ears were working) added a soft layer of sound. I would sometimes collect ribbon-like items that were used to unlock doors, and they would dance around in the air with more fervor than the jelly. I would run in areas that I didn't need to, just to see life spring up under what I assume was water. In sum, the audiovisual sensations alone might be worth the price of admission.
I beat The Floor is Jelly in around 3-4 hours, but I didn't "beat it" beat it. I'm not sure I will, given how tucked away some of its secrets must be, but I feel ok with that. The game doesn't provide an easy way to back-track, but I don't regret my time reaching whatever ending I earned.
For a world full of Jelly, one probably expects or even hopes there are a few cracks. I experienced some, but I don't think they were intentional. In several portions of the game, my frame rate dipped to 30-40 FPS (it should run at 60) and while it made me quit a few times, the world and its secret locations kept calling me back. Ian said that many of the frame rate issues will be fixed in an update once the game launches, along with his squashing other bugs where the character gets stuck in the jelly. I sometimes found "tears" in the jelly, jumping through areas I don't think meant to be jumped through. I imagine a lot of people are going to test the limits of this world, since its reactive physics are so inviting.
I hope you'll give Ian Snyder's The Floor is Jelly for Windows and Mac a go. I know some want to wait until it's in a bundle to get it for cheap, but it's really a bundle of gelatinous joy all in its own. The game is on sale for 10% off ($9) for the next week.