The Floor Is Jelly deserves to be in an art gallery for its wonderfully designed levels, but with occasional framerate drops and difficult controls, this game’s ingenious puzzles are let down by its loose platforming.
As the name suggests, this puzzle-platformer is based on the use of a jelly surface. As a flea-like character, you can jump up and down on the jellied ground to gain momentum like a trampoline so you can reach higher platforms. Much like Team Meat’s Super Meat Boy, you can wall jump, and soar through the sky at high speed from your bounces to get to an opposite section of the level. Another similarity that can be made between The Floor Is Jelly and Super Meat Boy is that there is an internal philosophy of game design; there are no tutorials.
In the beginning of The Floor Is Jelly, the player naturally learns to progress through the levels by experimentation – such as wall jumping. However, the puzzles become more complex with each world, and at times there is no evident solution from the environment. As a result, a guess with no recognition of how the puzzle works sometimes progresses you through a level. In addition, the difficulty spikes from very easy to difficult at a moment’s notice, so there is very little natural progression for The Floor Is Jelly’s platforming elements. When the player manages to understand the puzzle though, The Floor Is Jelly is ingenious with interesting twists on the gameplay, such as turning the environment itself and letting flowers gather rain rather than being in shelter.
While the game may have issues with its internal gameplay mechanics, The Floor Is Jelly’s strongest asset is its fantastic simplified art design. The environments are spectacular with rain drops making the jelly floor shake, the moonlit night sky with strands of light following you, and a sunset with leaves hovering around the air. Every screen from the game deserves to be in an art gallery with The Floor Is Jelly’s simple but beautiful aesthetic. If you are a fan of thatgamecompany’s flOw, Flower or Journey’s art style, you will adore this game for this aspect alone.
Another aspect of the game that many fans of flOw, Flower or Journey would like is the mellow soundtrack by Disasterpiece which drifts off and on. The music fits the atmosphere Ian Snyder is trying to create and when the tracks fade away, there is a stronger emphasis on the spectacular visuals and mood. The audio cues are spot on and from that, The Floor Is Jelly succeeds in getting a response from the player. If there are a few nitpicks to be had, the rarely played off-tune guitar tracks and the repetitive sound of your character jumping get irritating but do not ruin the soundscape created for the game.
Despite the mellow soundtrack playing in the background, there is sure to be at least a little cussing drowning it out, as The Floor Is Jelly has a few issues with its framerate. The game chugs when there are many objects on screen or a big set-piece like a house on the side – this creates input lag. With a platformer, it is essential to have the controls feel tight and lagless, but with The Floor Is Jelly, the framerate drops frustrate time and time again as there are precise wall jumps you have to get just right. Also, jumping in the air feels very loose as the flea-like character has a low sense of weight. When you try to gain momentum as you jump up and down the jelly floor, there is input lag which makes the gameplay even more difficult than it has to be. Keep note that, if you plan to use the Xbox 360 controller (which I highly recommend), you will have to unplug it as the game is on the main menu and then reconnect it. It can be a pain but it’s a minor inconvenience.
The Floor Is Jelly will take you around four hours to finish with plenty of interesting puzzles along the way and with a $9.99 (it is now, at the time of writing, $7.99) price tag, it’s worth picking up if you’re interested in the slightest.
Overall, The Floor Is Jelly has various issues with an occasional frame rate drop, loose controls, and some confusing puzzles but the visuals are spectacular and most of the levels are filled with creativity. Even though it has problems, this is an exceptional game from a one man developer and Ian Snyder should pat himself on the back for such an incredible looking and clever game. Also… just putting this out there – this would make for an outstanding PlayStation Vita title.