By Marty Mulrooney
World Of Goo is a physics-based puzzle game created by independent developer 2D Boy, which was founded by Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel, both of whom are former Electronic Arts employees. World Of Goo has won many awards since its release in 2008, including Best Independent Game from the Spike TV Video Game Awards Show, Game Of The Year from IGN and Best Game No One Played from Gamespot.
In World Of Goo, players must use small balls of goo to build large structures, allowing any remaining goo balls to reach a pipe (the exit) and escape. Each level requires a certain number of goo balls to be saved, with an ‘Obsessive Completion Distinction Flag’ optionally available for players who wish to give themselves more of challenge, such as collecting extra goo balls or beating a set time limit.
The game world itself is divided into five chapters, with each chapter containing several levels. The theme of each chapter gives these levels a decidedly unique feel throughout. There are also new mechanics introduced at a steady pace – such as left clicking to whistle and attract goo balls – and various different types of goo balls can be utilised in several different ways.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward, with players using the mouse to directly interact with the balls of goo. Moving the cursor to the edges of the screen pans the view around, whilst clicking the left mouse button on a goo ball allows you to move it about and hold it near a structure to add to it. Before using a goo ball, a white outline allows you to see what your placement will add to any given structure. Clicking any available tiny white ‘flies’ rewinds time slightly so you can reverse your latest disastrous move.
The default black goo balls can only be used once. After being added to a structure, they become stuck and lose their funky little eyes. Green goo balls can be used multiple times and create decidedly bendy and elasticated structures. Red goo balls are extremely flammable… which says it all really! Structures are also prone to collapse if not built properly, as gravity and physics play a key role in the completion of each level. Sometimes, even wind direction and mechanical devices come into play, which can complicate things even further.
One of the most surprising aspects of World Of Goo is that, although a puzzle game at heart (and a bloody good one at that), it also tells a surprisingly funny, resonant story. Signs littered throughout the levels display a vast array of messages from a stranger known only as the ‘Sign Painter’ and cutscenes between levels, although minimalistic, evoke unmistakable shades of Tim Burton. The World of Goo Corporation itself is obviously a metaphor for modern day consumerism and it remains a constant delight during play to notice the various subtle jibes and in-jokes littered throughout.
The soundtrack created by Kyle Gabler is splendid, matching the zany, quirky visuals to perfection. The entire soundtrack is available for free to download online too. My favourite tunes include ‘Brave Adventurers’, ‘Tumbler’ and ‘Cog In The Machine’… the music is just epic! This is the complete package, an indie endeavour that performs above 99% of the mainstream competition. Sound effects are likewise superb. Everything about World Of Goo is a feast for the eyes and ears, even two years after release. Even the menus and level selection screens are beautiful!
Any problems present are admittedly small ones. I finished the game in 6 hours, yet I enjoyed every last minute and didn’t complete every OCD challenge. Elsewhere, the lack of a zoom function could sometimes make it tricky to look around a level. The PC version also lacks the WiiWare version’s 4 player “pick up ‘n’ play” co-op mode, although it does feature online leaderboards for each individual level.
Overall, I find it difficult to fault World Of Goo. It looks and sounds great and offers a superb, fully realised world and gaming experience. I have always championed indie gaming and within the puzzle genre at least, this game is an instant classic. My only complaint is that the online version is now more expensive than the retail version (go figure) and that no sequel is currently planned. The most insanely brilliant, hardcore casual game ever made.
10 OUT OF 10