Want a quick, fun game that isn’t difficult and will probably cheer you up? Play “The Floor Is Jelly,” a new sidescroller by the indie developer Ian Snyder. It’s an interesting genre mash, and a surprisingly evocative game given its dearth of bells and whistles.
This is not one of those titles with a too-cute-by-half name that obscures the nature of the gameplay. In “The Floor Is Jelly,” the floor is indeed jelly. The walls, too. As a result, your character — a little blob of some unknown provenance (as far as I’m concerned, once you willingly accept the premise of a world composed mostly of jelly, you lose the right to ask back-story questions) — can bounce off pretty much everything. Even the soaringest heights are reachable by bouncing a few times, as if on a trampoline. All you really do is wander around in search of floating windows, gently flapping curtains and all, that will take you to other parts of the game universe. Sometimes you go underwater, which has the effect of reversing gravity so it is yanking you up rather than down, allowing you to reach yet more stratospheric perches.
“The Floor Is Jelly” is a small, quick game, and one thing I really liked about it was the way it mixed the feel of relaxing, atmospheric titles (or “ungames”) such as “Proteus” with the careful, satisfying maneuvering of such platformers as “Super Meat Boy.”
Now, none of this is to say “The Floor is Jelly” is as tough as trickier platformers. It’s not. But there’s enough jumping and dodging and, in a few cases, spinning the level around to add a nice layer of goal-directed gameplay on top of the futuristic chillness of the game world, which features a soothing, summery color palette and lovely ambient music from Disasterpeace. Sometimes when you walk across the jelly, ridiculous Dr. Seuss-esque flora will sprout up from it, as though your blob is helping to fertilize the world. It’s a relaxing, inviting virtual environment, especially during the depths of winter.
One thing I did not like about the game was the way it stuttered on my laptop in some places. I don’t own one of those $2,000 gaming behemoths, but my computer does run games like “Bioshock: Infinite” without much difficulty, so this was disappointing. It wasn’t a surprise, though — when the game officially launched, Snyder sent out an e-mail to everyone who had received an early copy apologizing for performance issues and promising a fix.
Indie developers like Snyder are under huge pressures to get games out the door, and often don’t have time to sand down each and every rough edge. Games being released not quite fully ripe is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in the increasingly indified, crowd-funded world, and it’s worth some thought as to what can be done to improve the situation.
I can’t come down too hard on Snyder, though. Not when his game just makes me want to fly somewhere warm, lie on a beach, and watch the waves lap at the shore for a while.Jesse Singal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.