World of Goo Review

There has been a lot of positive buzz surrounding independent physics-based puzzle game World of Goo. And no surprise, as it combines a nearly flawlessly executed simple and solid concept with a boundlessly charming look and feel.

The basic concept for World of Goo is simple and effective; you start with a number of goo balls at a certain distance from the goal (a pipeline) often with obstacles in the way. You use a part of your available goo balls to construct in the direction of the goal and the rest get sucked up into the pipeline, if enough survive you finished the level. Easy enough at start as World of Goo simple asks you to build across gaps or build upwards in a tower, though even in those simple challenges you will have to factor in the weight of the goo balls if you don’t want to see your tower collapse.

So far this sounds like a typical time-consuming, addictive physics-based puzzling game that you’ll find on Flash gaming website (and perhaps unsurprisingly it started as such). But World of Goo lives up to the challenge of expanding this small fun concept into a full-blown game. You move through 5 worlds, each with their own theme, and each with fresh new approaches to the basic gameplay concepts. At one point I found myself chuckling and going “oh wow” at another one of the original approaches the game takes, and that doesn’t happen to me that often.

As the difficulty rises and the gameplay modes expand, you’ll often have to sacrifice goo balls so the others make it (but that’s ok, we’re all in this together). The game does not load you up with hints on what to do meaning you’ll often have to be creative to figure out what the level wants you to do. This creative thinking is tied directly to the variety of goo balls available, each with its own unique abilities, drool goo balls that always hang down, or yellow goo balls that stick to surfaces.

What makes World of Goo really special is its charm; it is clear from the outset that every element of the game has been approached with love and care. The goo balls are well animated and have a great selection of sounds, the variety of goo balls each having its own look. The game’s plot is fairly basic but engaging in its cartooney feel, as you battle the World of Goo Cooperation with the help of the ever-present Sign Painter and the mysterious MOM.

This basic and charming look extends to the game world, each of the 5 worlds having its own typical look, with a simple aesthetic that is used very effectively. Music is the final cog in the machine and it is dead on, being popularly compared to Danny Elfman’s work for Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands, and effectively underlining the game’s engaging look.

As ecstatic as I am about this “breath of fresh air” game, it is not without its flaws. My biggest peeve is with the unskippable cutscenes; even if you already played a level through, it will show the same cutscene it did before (not every level has a cutscene, thankfully) and it is unskippable. Doesn’t sound too bad in principle, but as annoying as unskippable cutscenes normally are this is ten times worse, as World of Goo encourages you to replay levels to perfect your goo-saving score for the Obsessive Completion Distinction flag (and Steam-related achievement). The cutscenes put a major damper on this.

Smaller niggles are occasional interface problems (selecting the right goo ball can be a pain which is at times just a part of gameplay but another strike against the OCD fun) as well as resolution problems, and the fact that the game is rather short. Like Portal, it can be finished in a few hours, but (like Portal) this doesn’t hurt the game’s value all that much, because it’s just that much fun. Still, the European retail release has an extra world (which I hope will also be available for download as a DLC) and you can’t help but feel a level editor wouldn’t have hurt the game. One final point is that I played the PC version and found the mouse interface to work great, but I can’t blindly recommend the Wii version as I don’t know how well it works with the Wiimote.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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