The World of Goo is literally a world that takes you through different areas in different seasons of the year. Your first taste of Goo takes place in the summer, everything is bright and sunny and happy. The first level introduces the core mechanics of the game that are essential to making structures out of Goo.
Taking your Goo you drag it around the Goo foundations to create some links that hold the Goo in place. Goo’s are surprisingly bright creatures and surprisingly alive, they call out to you in their little voices when you pick them up and place them. Once you get your structure close enough to the Pipe, that ever present Pipe the Goo’s are sucked away and collected in a vat. When they are sucked up they make a pleasing noise of satisfaction that brings back memories of Lemmings.
There are many different types of Goo in the world they inhabit, some are ugly, some are beautiful, some are downright fiery balls of Goo, but they all have their own skills and characters. Those big blinking eyes constantly remind you that these aren’t just blobs of goo, they are real live Goo. When you commit the cardinal sin of dropping one to its doom you, by rights should feel real emotion at the loss of life.
Bear in mind if you will that is it not just the loss of a Goo that occurs when one dies, it is the loss of a vital cog in the machine that is necessary to complete the levels. Remember that Pipe I mentioned? Well you have to safely get home a certain amount of Goo in each level to succeed, and if you want to get Goo in the World of Goo Corporation then you have to get over the required number.
All the excess Goo balls are yours to play with in the magnificent meta-game that is the Goo Corporation. The Goo Corporation is where you can build to your hearts content with the original Goo balls. You aren’t just building for your own desire to play with Goo; you are building to reach that next cloud which shows how high SteveTheBlack or The Poisoned Sponge reached.
You have a constant companion during your time in the World of Goo, he (or she) is The Sign Painter, a chap (or lass) who writes on all the little sign posts that are present throughout the game. The Sign Painter offers clues to the level, random thoughts and details on the back story to the game. The Sign Painter can be seen as your helper and as a friend; he always seems to know what you are doing and provides a running commentary on your progress in the game. Some of the best comedic moments are thanks to this dude and his signs. Please take the time to read them all, they are worth it.
The levels themselves exude the same quality as the Goo, they have been made so perfectly and with such an artistic flair it is unbelievable, they seem to have their own personality at times. While the gameplay itself is absolutely outstanding it would be left standing on its own if the art wasn’t up to scratch. Rather it is the art that brings this game, for me at least, up above most other games currently on the market.
In fact it is the art which is the driving force of the gameplay and helps to tell the story behind each level. Chapter 2 occurs during fall and the levels are resplendent with the feeling of the season. From falling leaves to windswept trees it just looks delightful. Things get even better later in the game; Chapter 4 is a personal favourite of mine.
The artistic direction extends beyond the levels and the Chapter screens; it is present in the cut-scenes too and that is where it shines most of all. While you may think that there should be more of them, think again. They are so special and yet so utterly quirky and baffling that any more and you would’ve ignored them and any less wouldn’t have given you the taste of what they are like.
It is a feeling that is present throughout the game that feeling that you are playing something so very special. So many times playing through this game I was simply taken away by the level design, realising what Ron and Kyle want you to do in some levels you will be left breathless. I myself gasped at a few points at the sheer brilliance of what I saw in front of my eyes. Words cannot describe how good this game is.
I fear this review is becoming a bit lop-sided and praise heavy, that is for a reason though as there is not much you can criticise World of Goo for. I don’t like the Whistle, the tool which you use to get the Goo to move in certain directions; maybe I am not proficient enough with it to make use of it though.
That seems to be my major problem with the game, I don’t have a puzzler’s brain so at times I struggled, anyone with a hint of puzzle mastering will find the game to be just right in terms of difficulty. If you find you have done something horribly wrong though have no fear, often there are time-bugs flying around the level which, once popped take you back a move. Simple yet highly effective game design.
I am also slightly put out that we can’t buy the sound track to the game. It was electronically created by 2D Boy and it is absolutely magnificent. I don’t want to just rip the music files from the game folder; I want to buy a fully fledged sound track for World of Goo. I was chatting to some guys on the Rock, Paper, Shotgun Steam chat earlier and we spent about fifteen minutes just talking about the music. It is amazing to think that on top of all the other quality parts of World of Goo that the music is able to match them. At times writing this review I have loaded of World of Goo, gone to a specific level and just listened to the music.
You can start a level and the music will set the tone for what to expect, different tracks are matched up with the type of levels that they should be, again it is just another example of how the small things in the game have come together to make something magnificent.
It comes the time to wrap this thing up and all I can think is “hell yeah, I get to go and play some more of this game” because I need to get the screen shots done. 2D Boy have created one of the finest games of the year, I don’t care that it is an indie game; it is up there with any and all the hits. This is what gaming is all about, great game design, great character, and great fun. This is a gamer’s game and a game that should be played by non-gamers. It is a piece of art and a Goo filled ball of fun.