The Floor is Jelly
Developer: Ian Synder
Publisher: Same Dude
Released on May 30, 2014
Imagine a world where everything is made of jello, a delectable dessert that never stops jiggling. It sounds like a pipe dream, but not in this game! The Floor is Jelly features hours of amusement in a series of environments purely crafted from jello: the walls are thick and bouncy, the water appears solid but flowing, and the platforms exhibit a fluid motion which defies Newtonian physics.
Genre: Indie 2-D Platformer
The first thing I saw after pressing “Start” was a blue screen (the one where your system crashes). I thought the game was frozen and reacted by pressing random buttons on the keyboard until something finally happened. And Presto! A donut appeared, which I moved to each corner, releasing a stream of polka-dotted bubbles to generate the world of jelly.
You, the faceless protagonist, who rolled a natural 20 on acrobatics, must travel to the ends of the universe to seek out the truth of this world. Haha, just kidding…no such thing exists. You pretty much spend the whole game running around, exploring the vast jelly-verse and listening to the pleasant background music.
The first stage has some nice, windy autumn foilage, overshadowed by columns of deadly spikes. But they are easy to avoid for the time being. If you jump on a jelly platform, it makes a gentle, bouncing noise which is pretty cool. The point of this game is to simply reach the next glowing window you see. The windows will teleport you to another area with new obstacles to jump across.
At the end of every stage, is an elevator that will transport you to the next world. Each world has its own gorgeous environment, rendered in artistic, 2-D game design. As you venture deeper into the overworld, it starts to branch out into more stages hidden behind elevator doors. There is a tall gate at the center, which you have to unlock by collecting three lights before it reveals what lies ahead.
In the Midnight World, the moon is brightly glowing and the butterflies are fluttering about. A circular gate remains closed until you collect all the floating clusters of light at the end of each area. Once you touch the light, it forms a wispy trail, following you back to the start of the stage, to light up the edges of the circular door. Here, you can do vertical jumps to land on a higher ledge.
In the Morning World, the game will throw some curveballs your way. Two new elements have been introduced: The flowers serve as bounce pads that can launch you into the sky. The swirly pointers are capable of rotating the entire level. By changing the position of platforms, this adds a puzzle aspect to the gameplay. The tricky part is timing your jumps just right so you don’t fall off the screen.
A body of water always lies at the bottom of the swamp environment. While some platforms are up in the air, others extend down into the ocean. This world expects players to learn how to build momentum, such as by jumping off the highest ledge into the ocean. However, it may be disorienting for players when they need to jump underwater due to everything being turned upside down.
In the second half, the levels become harder as the jelly physics begin to deviate from what it does in the real world. The Winter area is a mix of transparent and solid structures that seem to light up or quickly disappear. Incorporeal blocks will materialize the moment you touch them. This part took me a while to figure out since it involves “thinking outside the box.”
Every nook and cranny has at least one terminal waiting to be discovered. Each terminal resides in a house like the one shown above. Many of them are hidden behind secret windows the player tends to overlook on their first playthrough. A total of 31 terminals exist in the game, for those who dare to wander outside the level’s boundaries.
The Wetlands are a bit different from the rest; it plays a smooth, jazzy tune to the rain, causing the jelly to constantly jiggle. This area contains some unique puzzles to solve, for example, touching the flowers to make them bloom. Players also have to rotate blocks to shield cat plants from the rain while leaving the white lotuses facing up. Doing this will help open new windows.
Once you’ve collected all three light orbs, the big gate opens up to a starry room with streaks of jello arranged into a striped pattern. The portal to space is just ahead, past the final elevator. As the intrepid wanderer, you must seek out the source of the jelly–in outer space!
The first thing you’ll notice in space is the lack of gravity. You can leap great distances as if your character is weightless, gliding across the stars towards your destination on a faraway chunk of dark jelly. Speaking of jelly, it is a lot softer in space than on Earth. Another gate is waiting for you but unlocking it may be your last mission.
You go through more windows only to encounter these colorful, “floating squares”. You ponder the consequences for a bit, before proceeding to touch those squares anyway because there’s nothing else left to do. And needless to say, it blows up and glitches the entire level, obstructing your path as you try to return to the window. And no, you can’t get rid of them once they’ve been unleashed into the world.
As predicted, the glitch begins to spread out, soon engulfing the world on its blocky textures. You are sent to a new area where the level seems to repeat and there is no way to escape. The game’s glitching progressively gets worse, like an amplified ripple effect. You are also unable to return to past worlds as the game implies they’ve been fully corrupted by the glitch.
The glitch does irreparable damage to the world, forcing the platforms to condense or even fly out of the screen. It becomes much harder to control your character and avoid getting caught between overlapping pieces of jelly. The stages are nonsensical, pushing the limits of what makes a game playable.
This creative platformer caught my attention back in 2016 when I saw Markiplier do a multi-video Let’s Play of it, praising the game for having a mellow soundtrack and inventive puzzles. So I decided to give it a try as I just bought it for under ten bucks on Steam.
And to be honest, it wasn’t half bad. Could use a bit of polishing but the controls work just fine. Was the game challenging at times? Absolutely! But I would still recommend it to the casual crowd.