World of Goo oozes wit and charm from every pore. The game’s imaginative puzzles, rousing music, excellent sound design, and a unique art style all add up into an experience that should not be missed. 2DBoy’s World of Goo is much more than just another puzzle game.
Each level in World of Goo requires you to move a certain number of goo balls across the level into a suction pipe. Initially, getting to the pipe is as simple as building a tower made of the goo balls to reach it. However, the puzzles become much more involved after the first few levels are solved. Building bridges and towers soon becomes second nature, and figuring out the best way to reach the end of each stage is a lot of fun. The levels are grouped into five different chapters, each corresponding to a season of the year, beginning with summer. The art style evolves with each chapter, giving each set of levels a unique visual identity.
You’ll be seeing a lot of the basic type of goo. These little, blobby fellows wander around until you use them, preferring to crawl around goo structures. Each piece of goo can be attached to your structure one at a time, but cannot be removed once they have been added. The structures that you build have their own weight and other physical properties that can make things a bit more difficult at times. Being able to build stable structures quickly is the name of the game here. There will be many times that you can save yourself from death with a few quick additions to your contraption before it topples over the edge of a cliff or collapses on itself. The goo balls are also very charming and cute, due in large part to the excellent sound design. They will squeak, scream, and let out many a “Yippee” as you guide them through levels.
While the normal goo is plentiful, they have more than few different friends. There are many unique types of goo out there including balloons, explosive goo, green goo that can be attached and detached at will, and even drool. Each of them have different physical properties that you’ll have to take advantage of to reach the level exits.
Now if you think you know exactly what to expect from World of Goo, you are probably only somewhat correct in your assumptions. Just when you think you have a handle on things, the game throws a new monkey wrench into the works. Whether it’s a new type of goo ball or a different kind of level, World of Goo does a great job of continually mixing things up and keeping you on your toes. The pacing is excellently done, keeping things interesting throughout playing the game and remaining innovative while it does so. The game keeps pulling out the surprises until the very last level is finished.
The storytelling in World of Goo is another high point. “What’s that,” you ask, “This puzzle game actually has a plot?” It most certainly does. The story is fairly simple, but it is told in interesting ways. There are a few cutscenes in between chapters, but most of the story is found in the levels themselves. Each level has at least one sign left behind by the mysterious Sign Painter. Each one has a short message that slowly reveals the plot as you play through the game. Also, the design of each level is also integrated into the story. In essence, you are actually playing out the story as you rescue the goo balls. The writing in the game is very smart. Some of the messages left by the Sign Painter had me laughing out loud at their dry wit. There is more character and personality in these messages than some games give their main characters that you can actually see.
Another large part of World of Goo’s unique identity comes from the excellent soundtrack. The music in the game ranges from epic tracks to smaller, introspective ones. The main theme is reminiscent of something from a Tim Burton movie, but other tracks have different feels to them. The best thing about the soundtrack is that despite having a large variety, everything still fits into a cohesive whole that is great to just listen to. In fact, there were a few times that I booted up the game just to listen to the music. Thankfully 2DBoy has made it much easier to listen to World of Goo’s music by making the soundtrack available on their website for free.
World of Goo also features a few small extras if you want to keep playing after finishing all the levels. Each level also has a set of more difficult secondary goals to complete in order to earn an OCD flag. This sometimes means you need to get more goo balls to the exit or complete the level in a super-fast time. Earning these flags can be very hard, so you’ll be spending a lot of time perfecting your goo-building techniques if you want to get every one. Additionally, the balls of goo that you rescue from each level find their way into the World of Goo Corporation. You can then use the goo to build a tower, trying to get as high as you can. As you build it, scores from other players will appear, motivating you to try to add that little extra bit of height to your tower. The more goo that you rescue in the normal levels, the more goo that you have available to build your tower at the World of Goo Corporation.
World of Goo is all the more impressive when you consider that it was created by only a couple of guys. It wasn’t made by a huge team of programmers and artists, and yet it has more polish and flair than a lot of its larger cousins. World of Goo is innovative, unique, and definitely worth playing.
Overall Grade: A