World of Goo Review: Puzzles With a Creamy Filling Inside
When it comes to puzzle games, most recognize the simple gameplay and progressive designs that eventually get harder, and require more skill and knowledge that has been acquired through the game. This method of learning and practical application has been the staple for most puzzle games since the beginning of time; stick the right row of blocks into the correct place, fire the right kind of orb over the field into the right order, send the psychotic green-haired mooks into different roles-as taught to you be the handbook and tutorial-to the end of the level. It’s a very efficient system. In 2D Boy’s award-winning “World of Goo” no such learning period exists.
The game takes the player right into the practical stage of sticking and stacking small, living blobs to a surreal, yet distinctive atmosphere within each world to reach the goal - a small, mysterious tube which sends the little guys to the World of Goo company, used in consumer products. The goo is used to create bridges and intersecting pathways to the tube, and is subject to the wild physics of the level and the dreaded natural force of gravity. The game plays like this on a platforming-esqe map; once a level is completed the area is blotted with black goo and opens more areas. While it is an interesting concept, I feel it’s much better used in platformers since maps tend to show where you’re going on a journey, not a collection of small creatures to a tube. It feels like it’s in the wrong place, and tacked on in some ways, for all the surreal factor it provides in music and graphics.
The game, while engaging and easy to learn due to the nature of the hands-on system, ramps up the difficulty as well, and way too early at that. Within the first world, it becomes a massive struggle to cross a frog’s mouth, creating his tongue in a sense, and keep it upright at the same time. As the numbers of blobs lessen and lessen, and the constructs became more defined within the first couple levels, the frustration starts to spark. This anger is only increased by the “OCD” score, which requires a specific number of blobs to be used, calling for extreme precision and placement. Consistent attempts at this endeavor infuriate the player as they attempt to figure it out more and more leading to more failure. If this option could be shut off, or simply hidden from sight unless prompted, this wouldn’t be an issue for a such a well-made puzzle game with strong graphical context.
Get “World of Goo” here
“World of Goo” was released in October of 2008 for the PC, Mac, and Wii via WiiWare. This review was based on the PC version.