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Review of Goop Loop

Childhood memories of an inflatable rubber ball that was partly filled with water come flooding back.

Goop Loop is a 2D platformer game by Lone Wulf Studio. In it, you control a blob of goop inside of a loop. It’s a Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy type of game (Sisyphus-like), but with blob-in-a-hoop physics instead of man-in-a-pot-with-a-hammer physics. You control the goop, and by air-accelerating into the sides of the loop you can affect its momentum.

This is another single-developer, pure-indie game. And it’s well-made. It’s a single course, with four layers to it. As you enter each next layer, there’s a turnaround, and the difficulty goes up as you go up.

It’s hard to get going at first, but you pick it up, kinda-sorta. Hard to master, by design. The first playthrough is all about learning the ropes, and falling off the ropes, plummeting back down as your goop rattles about in the cold ring prison.

It features a backseat-gamer sort of narration that is full of puns, good humor, and tidbits about the game design. Also a bit of the talking-during-putt golf effect sometimes, where you’re concentrating and the narrator eggs you on at the moment you’re about to succeed, only to fail because of the distraction (or so you tell yourself).

The art is nice enough. The background is placid and fits well with the overall design, while the foreground world, the goop, and the loop are utilitarian. The goop and the loop can change colors, the former from hitting any of seven paint buckets suspended at parts of the course. To change the hoop you have to beat the course better than bronze, silver, and gold par times (or after hitting all the buckets).

I don’t mention soundtracks often in reviews, because they’re usually adequate but nothing special. In this case, there is no music, so you might want to keep some on-hand if you like accompaniment.

Gameplay control was solid, if intentionally hard. Your goop sticks to the loop wherever it touches, and jumping takes inertia into account to some extent making control difficult at times. But you do get the hang of it. The game lets you remap the controls however you like, including controllers. I opted for keyboard.

There are three basic moves to master in playing the game:

  1. Slam the Side: you jump into the middle of the loop and then air-accelerate into the side in the way you wish to move. Doing this repeatedly makes you go fast.
  2. Stall: you jump against your movement, in order to slow down or stop. Necessary near gaps when you don’t have the speed you needed, to back off before you fall down.
  3. Hula: from the sides of the loop, you propel yourself perpendicular down. This causes the hoop to spin faster, and if done in the air, causes that sort of hula-hoop motion that can be very helpful in climbing.

It took me 11 hours to get all the achievements. That was 25 significant attempts, including the first time through which took me between four and five hours. Most of the rest of my playtime was spent on getting the golden hoop (beating the course in under five minutes). My second time beating the course took about 15 minutes, and from there I whittled it down to 11, eight, and finally four minutes forty-three seconds.

Getting the golden hoop is the only hard achievement, and it does take some effort. The other achievements take a bit of time, but once you’ve beaten the game and know the techniques, they aren’t that much trouble.

For getting done in under five minutes, my pace check was three minutes to the boxing glove. If I didn’t make it there by then, I’d restart. I got there faster a few times, but the run that got it done had me there at about three minutes, so I think it’s a good time to use.

While not a long game, the humor and frustration and the challenge made it a fun one, so if you don’t mind some intentionally-frustrating gameplay, you should take this one for a spin (and fall, and try again, and again, so-close! Damn! Argh!).