World of Goo
Follow the Goo Balls toward destiny.
Originally published March 23, 2009 on Game & Player.
Ever so peacefully the Goo Balls sleep nestled together in the grass, when a large wobbly structure slowly leans over them. As the structure gets close, the Goo Balls begin to stir. One by one they grab hold as the structure builds itself up, higher and higher towards a mysterious pipe in the sky. Without a care or a wonder as to why they want to go there, the balls are sucked into the pipe that they have been carefully building towards.
Destination Goo Factory. Leaving behind their friends who have now become part of what led them to their destiny, the Goo Balls follow the mysterious pipe to what seems to be their final destination. Unbeknownst to these gooey spheres, the world they exist in is really part of a game where the player must build structures out of Goo to carry the yummy Goo Balls to the World of Goo Corporations factory. As players send more and more gooeyness to the factory with each puzzle they solve, they witness the trials and tribulations of a wondrous world filled with many secrets and many kinds of Goo.
Building wavering bridges is merely where World of Goo‘s fun begins. Players will find themselves entrenched in puzzles where they can intuitively experiment with projectiles and escape velocities in order to achieve their goals. There is hardly a possibility of passing most levels without the use of concepts such as momentum and center of mass. It causes one to think intelligently and to create a plan, but most importantly it forces the player to experiment.
Divided into four acts, the tale of how Goo Balls came to achieve their status in this world develops with each puzzle solved and with every extra ball that is saved. The puzzles themselves consist of an obstacle, ranging from levers to oceans to exploding robots. A minimum number of balls must make it to the pipe to advance. Each puzzle has a maximum number that will give you an OCD score for that puzzle. Once completed, a red flag sits there designating your accomplishment/ailment.
A special meta-game, the World of Goo Corporation level, can be accessed from the menu. In it players collect every additional Goo Ball that was transported through the pipe system and can use them to build to their heart’s content. On the surface this is a pleasant time-killer, but the bigger picture tells us that if one could build them as high as they possibly could . . . they could see something incredible.
As a whole, World of Goo delivers on a level you wouldn’t expect from just two developers. Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel have managed to combine the most innovative use of physics with an enchanting story, a magically epic soundtrack, and an artistic style that appeals to all ages. The hard work and originality of 2D Boy has accomplished the ultimate goal of creating a game that is fun for everyone.
More than what you’d expect from just two people. In fact, the music alone deserves its own paragraph. Scored entirely by Kyle Gabler, the soundtrack is an eclectic mish-mash of the most pleasantly unusual sounds. As the feet tap while Goo Balls are towed into position, you can almost hear the inspirational sounds of Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer. Emotionally moving on their own, these songs add another level of fascination and mystique to the overall appeal of the game. To make things even better, the soundtrack is available for download, totally free, from Gabler’s site.
The only issue worth noting is that eventually the player will have so many Goo Balls to deal with that it is nearly impossible to select a specific one. This is only frustrating when there are multiple types of Goo on the same structure, and something must be done quickly to save the already-tipping edifice. Perhaps this is merely a lesson in patience, as I tended to have an abundance until something went terribly wrong.
There are games that teach us things, and then there are games that make us forget what time it is and that we were supposed to be somewhere very important half an hour ago. World of Goo is absolutely the latter and for the third of the cost of most console games, I doubt you can spend a more worthwhile dollar on a video game. Whether you prefer story development or an honest challenge, World of Goo will knock your socks off. Like an onion, this game has many layers and regardless of what you are into you will find something enjoyable here.