Judging a book by its cover is one thing you shouldn’t do when considering whether or not to play Loddlenaut. On the surface, it may not have stellar graphic compared to many games on the market, but once you dive in and start to clear out the rubbish and befriend the Loddles, there’s a pleasant and peaceful flow to it. While it spreads the important message about looking after the environment, it also gives the same satisfying feeling that cleaning often provides (see Powerwash Simulator, for example).
In Loddlenaut, you’re tasked with cleaning up the oceans of the planet GUP-14. Like Wall-E underwater, getting rid of glass and plastic bottles, tin cans and black sludge, nuts and bolts, and other waste is your main priority. You start off with a laser gun that shoots away all the black mess, and you can also pick up any rubbish you find and pop it in your inventory. You can only carry so much, and once you’ve got as much as your little body can store, it’s back to base to recycle.
While it could be classed as a survival game, the mechanics are more than forgiving. You have a set amount of oxygen that gradually runs out, however, you can utilise flora that’ll provide you with air bubbles to help refill it. There’s also the option to head back to base where there’s an infinite supply. To get around a lot faster underwater, a booster will give you a window to speed across the ocean which does run out, but it does fill up pretty sharpish.
There’re different recyclers back at base that will supply you with resources like glass, plastic, and metal, which can be used to improve your oxygen supply and make your booster last longer, but there’re other upgrades like expanding the range of your scanner (which helps you to see any missed pollution). A crafting station call also be used to build certain items that might help you to clear larger amounts of waste among other things. Loddlenaut provides you with solutions to almost every aspect of your mission to clean GUP-14, and the act of doing so is one of its best features.
Ridding the ocean planet of pollution is not the only enjoyable task for you to do. Another one of the benefits beside restoring cleanliness is befriending the Loddles. These cute creatures look like axolotls, and all they want is to return to their natural habitat. By cleaning each area of the map (new ones are unlocked as you progress), you can send them back out, but not before feeding them and showing them fuss. You’ll befriend a variety of Loddles, and returning to old areas to see how they’re doing is just lovely. One of the first Loddles I befriended was called Pumpkin, and it never got old dropping in to give him something to munch on and say hello.
There’s repetition as you play, but Moon Lagoon has given the world some story for you to indulge in through data files regarding those that were responsible for the pollution. Going back and forth between locations can take a bit of time, but fast travel opens up once an area has been cleaned. Previously cleared areas can gather up pollution, so you’ll be returning every now and again to keep things spotless. There’re also new tools to unlock which provide more gamey segments, such as a vacuum that removes clouds of microplastics.
Loddlenaut is fundamental in its premise, and this simplicity might not be for everyone. It might not be as visually appealing as other games set underwater, but there’s a rewarding loop in cleaning the waste away to reveal newly growing plantlife, restoring GUP-14 to how it used to be. It might be repetitive at times, but it’s relaxing and sweet, and making friends with the Loddles was a key part of why I liked it. While it doesn’t impact the review, it’s also a beautiful thing that for every copy sold, Secret Mode will donate to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. That tells you a lot about the type of game it is, and the joyful feeling it offers as you try to make a difference.
Cleaning up is satisfying
Loddles are so cute!
Great gameplay loop regarding recycling
A little repetitive
Might be too simple for some