I really love cooperative games, and while cooperative platformers can be difficult, they’re also some of the most rewarding. Gelly Break Deluxe really puts that to the test. It’s a game that, while brightly colored and cute on the outside, has some sinister cooperative gameplay that can test your friendship. Originally released three years ago, this ‘deluxe’ version is a rerelease now that developer Byterockers’ Games has the rights back, and they were able to release a game much closer to their original vision.
Gelly Break Deluxe is a platformer shooter hybrid that can be played solo or cooperatively. You play as one of two blobs in cooperative play: orange or green. These blobs can only stand on platforms of a similar color. That means one blob must piggy back off of the other. While stacked, the top blob serves as a turret—though with the switching nature of Gelly Break, one blob won’t consistently be the top–rather, you’ll have to get mighty good at synchronizing jumps with your partner to succeed. Solo, however is almost a completely different experience. In solo play you control both blobs, and it becomes more of a twin-stick shooter/platformer. Jumps that are difficult with two players are trivial, since shifting positions requires no coordination, just a mere button press. For me, then, Gelly Break Deluxe is a story of two games: a relatively easy going and much easier solo game, and a pretty punishing cooperative game that requires some precise coordination.
Some of the difficulty in playing Gelly Break Deluxe cooperatively lays in switching mid-air. Gelly Break has moderately challenging jumping puzzles that require you to flip between orange and green mid-air, sometimes multiple times in a row. That’s not the only trick employed in Gelly Break Deluxe, however, as Gelly Break has challenges that force you to avoid lava or even discover invisible pathways that only become visible when you’re close or your projectiles are. Gelly Break Deluxe isn’t only a platformer: it has a fair amount of enemies that must be dispatched in a manner that is similar to a twin-stick shooter.
Gelly Break Deluxe has a fair amount of combat, though it’s of the cute and brightly colored variety—hardly violent or gratuitous. But it can be difficult, not because enemies are particularly clever—rather, Gelly Break likes to throw swarms of hopping enemies at you. They’re not the only variety, as some require a combination of shooting and spinning to defeat. Combat requires coordination between two players, but since one controls the movement and the other controls the shooting, it rarely requires as much coordination as the platforming sections. Gelly Break also has a handful of boss fights, each with their own mechanic. These boss fights are relatively challenging, especially in co-op—but they’re very well put together and fun.
Progression in Gelly Break Deluxe isn’t exactly linear. There is an overworld map that allows you to choose the next level, though any extra choices are usually unlocked with a certain number of gel collectibles, with three potentially hidden in each level. Eventually, if you don’t find enough of these hidden gel collectibles, you’ll hit a progression road block. I’m not a huge fan of forward progression being locked behind collecting secrets. It feels like its just there to make the game artificially longer, even if you like hunting for secrets.
Gelly Break Deluxe is a good platformer that manages to be fun solo, and deviously difficult in co-op mode. Co-op mode is couch only, though you can play with a friend if you use Steam’s remote play together feature. And I think Gelly Break Deluxe is its best when played with a friend. Solo mode feels like it’s almost too easy, with the game feeling like it’s tuned towards two players struggling to work together. If you like challenging co-op platformers, Gelly Break Deluxe is a great one.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.