World of Goo Review

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World of Goo Publisher: 2D Boy
Developer: 2D Boy

Platforms: Wii, PC, Mac and Linux
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 1.0 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible video card, 100 MB HD space, Windows XP or more recent operating system

"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."

Kyle Ackerman

Never has something that I might scrape off my shoe been so adorable, nor has it provided such an entertaining entry point to basic physics and engineering. World of Goo is unbelievably simple – the game offers a collection of tiny goo balls, each with slightly different properties, all of which can be combined to solve puzzles. Such puzzles typically involve building towers or bridges, but can involve orbital dynamics, basic kinematics or just really goofy jokes. Some of the puzzles are challenging, nearly all are engaging, and most provide exceptionally difficult (but optional) "OCD" challenges.

Despite the fact that World of Goo won several awards in the 2008 Independent Game Festival, I walked right on by it when I saw it at the IGF. At the time it looked like a clever physics game – but its brilliance is in the puzzle design. The puzzles are so carefully crafted that it was only after playing several levels at home and following the hints of the enigmatic Sign Painter that I truly understood the brilliance of World of Goo.

That's what makes World of Goo an absolutely worthwhile purchase. The puzzles are universally interesting, and while nearly all are intuitively solvable, nearly all offer optional challenges that will strain logic, reflexes or both. Everyone I've spoken with universally agrees that once the story resolves in World of Goo and the puzzles have run out, they feel a deep disappointment solely because there is no more goo to manipulate.

In the game, blobs of goo typically serve as the anchor points of structures connected by tendrils of goo, creating pulsing, undulating structures bent to the player's will and bound by physics. The many varieties of goo are visually distinct, and introduced slowly (and mysteriously) so that, with a little experimentation, their different puzzle roles become apparent and memorable. Some can be detached from constructions, others serve as buoyant balloons, and still others are gloriously flammable. There are just enough different types to ensure that puzzles and puzzle solutions don't become repetitive and dull.

Especially given the small, indie staff at 2D Boy, the game has particularly marvelous visuals and sound. I found the cut-scenes to be disappointingly abstract compared to the actual game play, but the stylized visuals, right down to the cleverly changing menus, were superb and fit perfectly with the play. In fact, from the fun to the physics foundation, World of Goo feels like it was developed by a much larger team, and is easily recommended to anyone looking for a little pick-up-and-play puzzle entertainment.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 12, 2009 8:40 PM.

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