On the face of it, The Floor is Jelly by Ian Snyder is a great example of an indie platformer. The graphics are excellent, the music is good and it all comes together in a coherent mood. Not only that, but it has a unique and interesting mechanic, namely that … the floor is jelly.
It’s only when one comes to interact with it that the cracks start to appear. There is no proper controller support, although occasionally I can get it to work by unplugging and reconnecting my gamepad. It loads in a window – but not a splash screen – and then switches to full screen, which is quite jarring.
There are some elements in the game which make noises which change pitch, but do so in a seemingly random way. If it’s meant to spell out a recognisable tune, it doesn’t. In Mario games, the pitch rises continuously as you pick up red coins. Maybe that’s not appropriate. Try the fun little game Winterbells. All the bells have the same pitch sound. I think this would make for a much smoother experience.
These are minor interaction issues, which make the game feel very hodge-podge and not worth the £6.99 it is on Steam.
But then we come to actually playing the game (on a keyboard). The jelly physics works well and has super smooth curves, presumably using something cool with pixel shaders. Ian Snyder deserves a lot of credit for that alone, and bringing it into game form.
However, the levels are not balanced and the learning curve is steep, and after any period of gametime I quickly lose interest. Also, the jumping, the very basis of all platforming, feels broken. It takes careful timing to build up high jumps, as it should, but not in a meaningful or intuitive way.
Imagine if the rotation in Fez were delayed somehow, and it started out very hard. It takes not only a good mechanic, but carefully crafted levels and carefully balanced controls to make a game fun.