World of Goo is a physics based puzzle / construction game. The millions of Goo Balls who live in the beautiful World of Goo don’t know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious.
No of Players: 1
Review – December 2008 by Charles Rodmell.
World of Goo. It’s a special name for a special game which almost everyone will enjoy. The basic concept is totally straightforward. Presented in 2D, with lots of beautiful parallax scrolling, on most of the levels there are balls of Goo and they are all desperate to get into a pipe that will take them *somewhere*. The pipe is always out of reach though and the Gooballs need to help each other so that as many as possible can get sucked into the pipe. The means by which they achieve pipe nirvana varies according to type of Gooball, but most of the puzzles involve building some sort of tower or bridge (or both) by joining the Gooballs together in a molecular-style structure, with tendrils of Goo keeping them a certain distance from each other.
This is made rather more exciting by the various physics that affect what you’ve built. Gravity is the main enemy to progress, with poorly thought out structures collapsing under their own weight and also the weight of any lone, unused Gooballs that roam the structure looking for the pipe or waiting to be used. Completing a structure that solves the puzzle is immensely gratifying, with hopefully enough remaining Gooballs on the loose to meet the level objectives and proceed to the next one. The pipe even makes a satisfying sucking noise and the Gooballs going into it whoop with very high-pitched joy. It’s all so cute and adorable.
The atmosphere is boosted further by a musical score that is both fun and heartache inducing. The scenery and Goo is all drawn in a highly memorable style that serves both the needs of the gameplay and to set it apart from any other game you’ve seen. A blend of the elemental and the mechanical both aid and hinder progress, with wind and fire and water integrated perfectly alongside cogs and buzzsaws.
World of Goo provides ultimate one handed gaming. To scroll around, just move the cursor with its gooey trail. The only real control is a button held to pick up a Gooball and released to place it, automatically joining a structure if released in the right place, potential tendril joins indicated by glowing lines. Occasionally, other objects lying around can be manipulated too using the same control. If no Gooballs are nearby on the structure they can be summoned by pressing the same button to whistle – they come over to your cursor chirping and ready for action. It’s so simple and almost perfect. However there are occasions when selecting the exact Gooball is necessary and can be a pain because there are too many in the one place.
The puzzles are never really challenging and it’s always obvious what to do, if not on the first play, lessons learned point the way for the next attempt. This is unfortunate because much of it seems like a tutorial and it’s obvious from the start what to do, meaning actually bothering to build the structure to reach the goal can occasionally be tedious. Much like DIY, if you are the kind of person that likes the work phase, you’ll be totally happy with World of Goo, but if you prefer the finished product, you might be slightly bored at times and just going through the motions. However, the story is a strong driver to continue playing. Initially it is very mysterious, and driven by text signs on each level, injected with decent humour by the “Sign Painter�?, along with brief cut-scenes between stages. Whilst it always retains that air of mystery throughout, it keeps you guessing and is very effective.
Additional ranking challenges on each level make a good attempt at extending replay, with both time and frugal use of Gooballs to contend with. This creates a “hard mode�? that is non-mandatory so it doesn’t hamper progress. If you go all out and maximise the number of Gooballs saved on a level, the extra balls get sent to an area where they can be built into an enormous tower. If online, the height of other people’s towers and how many balls they used to attain it appear on little clouds. It’s intriguing at first, but the lack of structure and reward restrict it to a `nice-to-have` feature.
As in many walks of life, it’s the journey that’s the most fun in World of Goo. Everything is so slickly presented and unusual that it’s compelling for the vast majority of the time. Unravelling the story, seeing the worlds change with each stage, and the fun of discovering and using new types of Goo make it a complete package that anyone can and should play. Whilst not perfect, it’s a WiiWare triumph.