Review by Lock and Chain

"It's like your high school's bridge-building contest in videogame form."

World of Goo is by no means the blockbusting game of the year, and it's not universally appealing. I saw World of Goo available for five bucks on Steam, read some rave reviews for it, and decided to pick it up. I certainly got my money's worth. World of Goo is a quirky little game good for a few solid hours of entertainment, but as an indie game, don't expect it to go above and beyond the bar that the genre has set for it.

Gameplay: 4 out of 5
What's really important to keep in mind about World of Goo is that this game is definitely not for everybody. It's a 2D puzzle game that relies heavily on an extremely accurate physics engine, and the goal is to build structures like towers and bridges from one end of the level to the other that can handle the environment and, well, the laws of physics.You are given a variety of building blocks, little anthropomorphic blobs called "goos," to accomplish this goal. But you need to build carefully because once you reach the end of the level, you need a certain number of goos left over to fill a set quota required to complete the level.

At first you'll start out with your basic black goo, which can attach to up to two other goos and will permanently become part of the structure once it's attached. As the game progresses you'll be given all kinds of goos to overcome all kinds of obstacles - goos that can reattach, goos that stick to the environment, goos resistant to spikes, jumping goos, flammable goos, exploding goos, water goos, so on.

This game revolves around its physics engine, and if you're not a big fan of building bridges and such, you're not going to enjoy this game. However World of Goo is extremely creative and building is not all there is to it. You'll need to master building your goo structures to handle all kinds of hazards like spikes, fire, wind, and pits. And you'll utilize your structures for a variety of things such as using them to guide a giant goo into a machine that'll grind it up into several tiny manageable goos, or getting the inactive goos moving around on your existing structure to gather up and shift the weight of the whole structure, or using balloons to float your structure across the level to the goal. The game will get incredibly wacky - it's just too much to explain.

Story: 4 out of 5
Despite its simplicity, I rather like this game's story. It's because the creators chose to disseminate the story to the players in a very unique way. Most of the story is derived from a bunch of signs placed throughout the game, all signed by the mysterious "sign painter." He mostly gives you hints and snarky commentary about the level you're playing, but if you read his signs you'll see a bit of character development coming from a faceless, anonymous set of words. That trend continues when you later meet MOM, which I don't want to spoil. The game is so constantly breaking the fourth wall that you as the player really become a character in the story.

There's a couple short cutscenes along the way which help you to understand the shadowy Goo Corporation, and they're cleverly told without any dialogue or written word. They're incredibly fun to watch since they exemplify World of Goo's off-the-wall style and really help to characterize the only two visible characters in this story - the goos and the consumer whores that the Goo Corporation services. There is no traditional avatar with a backstory and such in this game. The individuals are anonymous and faceless, and the characters you can see make up an entity larger than themselves, those entities being characters in themselves.

Control: 2 out of 5
The thing about the controls is that it's incredibly simple, like the rest of the game. You can play this game with one hand. Just point and click on a goo to pick him up, and let go to drop/attach him wherever you need him. Problem is, it's too simple.

The goos you're not using will move around on the structure you're building, and tend to gather as close to the level's exit as possible. What that means is that due to lack of an option to do so, it's damn near impossible to pick out a specific type of goo. They all hang out in one giant cluster#%$@, and countless times throughout the game I've lost several precious goos trying to pick out a certain one, or even accidentally removed an integral piece in the structure they're moving around on, causing the whole damn thing to fall apart.

Furthermore, time is often of the essence in this game, so I'm stuck sifting through piles of goos looking for the right one while my structure continues to wobble and will fall into a spike pit at any moment. It's an unbelievably aggravating and constantly-occurring problem in this game.

Replayability & Length: 2 out of 5
World of Goo is good for maybe a week or two's worth of casual play, and a lot less if you're the type of gamer who doesn't let little things like a job or school to distract you from videogames. There's 5 worlds comprising a total of about 45 levels, and each level only lasts a few minutes - though some of the harder ones can take much longer and harder levels are more frequent as the game progresses.

The game tries to extend its lifetime by two means. First, you can fulfill certain conditions for a level in order to receive "OCD" distinction, such as reaching a certain number of goos beyond the quota or beating the level within a given timeframe. Second, there's the "World of Goo Corporation," a free-build mode where you can use all the goos you've gathered beyond the quota to build as tall a tower as you possibly can.

These two diversions do little for the game's longevity, however. OCD distinctions are appropriately named considering that they offer you absolutely no reward or incentive for achieving them - get every OCD, nothing happens. And if you're anything like me, you'll spend an hour building a tower in World of Goo Corporation only to accidentally remove an important goo (see "controls") or overload the top and knock the entire damn thing over, making it feel like a huge waste of time. Like OCD, there is also no real reason to build the tower.

Graphics: 5 out of 5
This game is nothing short of a piece of art. It's difficult to describe just how beautifully the graphics of this game came together. Each world bears its own unique art style and the various obstacles placed within each course are far from normal. Instead of blowing up a wall, you might have to blow the head off a giant robot. Instead of moving goos through a tunnel, you move them through the mouth of a giant frog. That telescope sitting at the top of the hill happens to have a pupil and some eyelashes on the lens, and blinks every so often. In short, this game is trippy. The levels are amazingly designed down to the last detail, and the animation is all part of the overall package like the rest of the game. Goos bouncing and jiggling around the level and consumers shaking in their stop-motion excitement really do add to the overall artistic perfection of this game. Artistically, everything in the game comes together in perfectly synchronized harmony.

Sound & Music: 4 out of 5
The sound is for the most part great. The theme song is a catchy tune that really blends well with the off-the-wall nature of this game, and the goos make all kinds of noises in response to how you use them. The goos' cute little cries of joy, fear, wonder, and pain really serve to humanize the little guys and make them more than just simple building blocks. However at most points in the game the music is just forgettable background noise. Other than the

Final Recommendation: World of Goo is not for everyone. Read the gameplay description. If it sounds like your kind of game, go for it, especially since it's so cheap. For five dollars it was worth every penny, and for the twenty it's usually priced at, it's still a pretty damn good deal.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/22/09

Game Release: World of Goo (US, 10/21/08)

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