I don’t know why, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about cleaning up in video games. We’ve had the likes of The Gunk and Powerwash Simulator to name but two, and now Loddlenaut is taking us to the depths of the sea to clean up. Despite being colourful and fantastical, Loddlenaut still packs in an important message about looking after our oceans, but that’s only one of the reasons I love it so.
This isn’t the longest game in the world: completing Loddlenaut’s campaign will take you around four hours. But there’s a very good reason you might keep going back, and that’s the game’s titular Loddles. These wonderful little sea creatures inhabit the environments you visit. When you first meet them, they’ll be contaminated by the trash that fills their home waters – but after cleaning them and their environments up, you’re likely to get attached to these adorable little creatures.
Starting out as colourful blobs, each loddle will evolve into its adult form as you feed and interact with it. How they grow is random, but is influenced by the diet they eat. You see, the sea is filled with different types of fruit which you can gather and feed your loddles. Using machinery back in your home base, you can also turn fruit into more interesting snacks to feet your loddles. You’ll want to, too, if you want to keep them all happy.
Loddles are a nice diversion in Loddlenaut, then, but it’s the act of cleaning that’s initially going to hook you into this wonderful little underwater romp. Initially you’re equipped with a muti-functional bubble gun. With this, you can clean up the dark purple goop that clings to surfaces, and you can also suck up various bits of waste that’s floating around the waters. Think bottles, plastic six-pack wrappers, tins and more. You’ll even find black bags which can be broken open, revealing a wealth of different waste inside.
The waste you’ve collected can be recycled back at your base and turned into useful bits of material that you can use to buy various upgrades. You can increase your oxygen supply, for example, and enhance the power of your bubble gun. Later, when you unlock new equipment, you’ll also be able to craft upgrades for those too. The raw materials you find can also be used to make little toys for your loddles to play with. Aww.
Your bubble gun is enough to clean up everything in Loddlenaut’s first two biomes, but as you progress you’ll need new pieces of equipment. Later, you’ll come across microplastics, forming nasty clouds in the water. A special hoover-like tool is require to clean those up. The microplastics you collect can – rather satisfyingly – be fed into your plastic recycler and turned into useful chunks of material. Later, you’ll also unlock a cleaning vehicle which you can ride on, allowing you to clean up sludgy, oily spillages on the ocean floor.
Initially while playing Loddlenaut, your oxygen tank is a bit of a limitation. With a capacity of only 75, it doesn’t take long to run out – and early on, I ran out of oxygen twice. There’s not much of a punishment, thankfully: I simply found myself back at the base. But when you’re hard at work cleaning up a biome, it can be a bit of a nuisance to head back to your base to recharge. Thankfully, you can also recharge your oxygen count by swimming through bubbles, but even searching for these can break up the flow of the game. Once you’ve upgraded your oxygen tank, though, it stops becoming much of a problem.
That’s really the only minor complaint I can level at Loddlenaut, though. I completely understand the want for developer Moon Lagoon to have the oxygen mechanic in there: it may be a rather fantastical game, but there are still realistic elements here, and needing oxygen to exist underwater is one of them. Yes, it occasionally breaks your immersion when you’re focused on cleaning – but it’s part of the game.
It’s the simplicity of Loddlenaut that’s ultimately won me over, I think. Cleaning up is incredibly satisfying, and that’s partly because there’s not a complicated suite of tools to change between. You only have three to contend with, with most actions being done with your trusty bubble gun. Seeing the world around you transform back into a wonderfully clean biome teeming with life is rewarding. And seeing the loddles thrive in their fresh new environment is just the cherry on top.
Cute, joyous and packing in an important message to boot, I adore Loddlenaut. This is the epitome of relaxing, stress-free gaming, with the only thing you need to worry about being keeping your oxygen topped up. Cleaning up the oceans is fulfilling in a way that few video games are – and getting to interact with the adorable loddles is simply a bonus you’re going to want to keep coming back for.