The site uses cookies that you may not want. Continued use means acceptance. For more information see our privacy policy.

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!).

Review of Disco Elysium

A noir-style single-player D&D campaign in a can!

Disco Elysium is an odd game. It is a non-combat role-playing game where you play a detective who can’t remember. He was sent to the unincorporated harbor city of Martinaise, in Revachol, to solve a murder. In that, you’re aided by a true Gamgee of a partner, Lieutenant Kim Kitsuragi. Over the course of the game you deal with the murder, the past of the character, the past of the world.

Before proceeding with the review, it’s worth pointing out there is legal drama around the studio that made the game. Wikipedia: “Disco Elysium:” Legal issues provides details, but for those who don’t want to buy a game under some cloud of studio controversy, you might wait. (I bought it before the issues came to light.)

I played on Linux via Proton/WINE, and the game ran fine. Controls are mouse and keyboard. You can use either, though I tended to use my mouse. The interface is nice and you’ll want to lean on the right-mouse button while moving in the world to help you know when the character has a thought orb above him. You can zoom using the mousewheel, you can scroll the dialogue panel by clicking and dragging.

The game is incredibly wordy, by design. It’s also thoroughly voice-acted with very distinctive voices. (The NPCs in the game are all different backgrounds and accents.) It is a game that swings for the fences of all applicable sense organs: eyes, ears, and feels. And it clobbers them all beautifully.

The basic gameplay involves interacting with NPCs through dialogue, asking questions, reacting. You gain experience for these interactions that let you spiff-up your character sheet. Other augments to character include your clothing and internalized thoughts in the thought cabinet. These thoughts have temporary effects and permanent ones, as well as a timeframe to complete the thought. You may forget them if you do not need or want them any longer, or if you need a slot to internalize a new thought—but if forgotten, they’re gone for good.

The various player stats are used when passive or active checks occur, letting you ask questions, get answers, perform tasks, notice things about the interogatee, about yourself, about the world. Active checks show you a percentage chance of success, and mousing over a check will show you its details (what you rolled versus what you needed to roll). There are red checks and white checks. Red checks are do-or-die. If you fail one, you can’t retry without save-scumming. Failed white checks may be retried by leveling up the relevant stat (or, sometimes, by poking around the world based on various hints).

Oftentimes, you will want to go into the proverbial phone booth to change your clothes before attempting a check. For example, if something requires higher Visual Calculus, you will want to change out of any clothes that give you debuffs to that stat and change into any clothes that buff it.

The basic gameplay is stretched over an incredible and dense campaign. Time passes through the day, interaction by interaction. NPCs start disappearing to sleep by about 2200 hours, and the clock stops around 0200 with the world mostly a ghost town. The story is divided into two main parts: the first two days (during which your movement is restricted to the northern urban harbor area) and days three-plus, when you can roam around the coastal village south as well.

On my first playthrough, I had a harder time playing it continuously, feeling the need to take time to digest between smaller sessions. It can be tricky on that first run, to know what matters, to know what’s going on. But it has good replay value, and I completed seven runs total. Even then, there were things I missed. Small things, perhaps, but there is a lot of solid, funny, poignant world in this game.

It took me 121 hours to get all 40 achievements. While I can’t say if I’d currently buy it again, with the drama going on with the developers, if that’s resolved (or it doesn’t bother you) this game is worth a look, a listen, and several feels.

Without going too much into the specifics of the allegations or drama around the company, in some ways it seems almost fitting or at least expected, given the contents of the game, that such a thing would happen. Life imitates art, after all. But those involved produced a great game, and I hope they will find their way to produce more quality work in the future.