Review: World of Goo

WorldOfGoo.jpgThere are times when a simple description does little to convey the joy contained in a great game. For World of Goo, my one-line description ‘solve puzzles by building stuff by stringing together bunches of goo balls’ doesn’t begin to explain why you will be losing sleep playing ‘just one more level’. I am not sure that my line will completely describe just how much fun this game is, so it is a good thing that there is a small demo download available to let you try for yourself before inevitably buying one of this year’s best games (click here to download the demo for yourself).

World of Goo looks like a cross between games like LocoRoco and something you’d find on a ‘Flash’ gaming website, and apparently that is how the game got its’ start. But it has evolved far beyond that, and playing through it reveals much that other makers of these simple ‘casual games’ could learn. From the unified style to the varied setting to the focus on providing an interesting and engaging experience, the developers have done everything possible to deliver a quality experience that defies being categorized as just another throwaway game.

The goal is very simple – you need to connect from your starting point to the exit pipe to ‘save’ goo balls. The basic concept is also simple – you control the placement of balls of goo, which maintain a connection affinity over a certain distance as shown by the thickness and brightness of the threads between them. You build structures with the balls to accomplish tasks. However, the balls are subject to the laws of physics, so when you try to build across a chasm you need to deal with the desire of everything to just fall into the chasm. In addition certain balls have special properties: certain balls stick to surfaces, others drip downwards, others explode near flames, and so on. You learn to use these creatively to accomplish your tasks more and more efficiently.

Because when it comes down to it you just need to get from entrance to exit, but who wants to stop there? Half the fun is saving more goo balls and doing it in fewer moves and using less time. There is more than just connecting balls together – there is a small story that is told across four chapters, one per season, and an epilogue. This is not epic stuff, just something to provide a backdrop for your adventures.

The technical presentation is superb: graphically everything helps convey the feel of the game, right down to the silly ‘loading’ messages at the beginning. Colors are bright and the feeling is charming and cartoon-ish, and the animations are very well done. The music and sound effects are also extremely charming and well done. Each new chapter takes you to a different world with its’ own design and feeling. It is often hard to believe this is a little download smaller than most patches you would download for new PC games.

I have a single complaint – unskippable cutscenes. Because the game is so much fun and because replaying levels is encouraged, there really should be a mechanism to skip cutscenes – at least after having watched them once. It is a minor annoyance, but it is also a pet peeve of mine.

World of Goo is an amazing confluence of simple things done extremely well with excellent results. There is a unified set of elements – graphics, story, music, sounds, gameplay, and goo to hold it all together. Just as Portal wowed everyone last year with simple gameplay that really worked, this year World of Goo is the game to play. Do yourself a favor – if you have a PC, Mac or Wii, go and download this now!

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Addictive gameplay
+ Budget Price
+ Great level design
+ Cool music
+ Fun for just about anyone
+ Did I mention the addictive gameplay?

Cons:
– You will lose sleep and time
– Unskippable cutscenes

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PC/Mac, also available for Wii via WiiWare
Publisher: Brighter Minds
Developer: 2D Boy
Release Date: 10/17/08
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!