WORLD OF GOO / 2D Boy / PC

World of Goo is a cute, inventive, visually and aurally appealing "physics puzzler" wherein one must arrange globs of goo into bridge-like structures to get them over hazards to a goal. It's essentially a really good Flash game.

It's a good game. It's often quite a fun game. It is not, however, one of the best games ever made by a long stretch of the imagination. And I mention this because, as I write this, it's sitting at #4 on Metacritic's all-time best list and #40 on Gamerankings. Now, I know ... "lol aggregate sites" and "lol games journalism." But still. From reading some forums this is clearly one of those games that somehow sends some people into crack-high frenzies of ecstasy, and then unfortunately they take to the internet to circle-jerk over it and try to E-Thug on anyone who dares to express anything less than rapturous pleasure with it (much like recently reviewed Braid and Shadow of the Colossus.) I saw all the same old tired ad hominem stupidity trotted out yet again for this one, in response to even mild suggestions of dissapointment with it or that it was maybe just a *bit* overrated - "you don't have a soul", "you're too stupid for it", etc.

Don't feel bad if the game doesn't induce an orgasm for you upon play or if even - gasp! - it becomes uninteresting to the point where you don't feel like finishing it. For starters, enjoyment of this game is heavily predicated on two things - your tolerance for bridge-building puzzles, which the game almost entirely revolves around exclusively, and then your tolerance for "pat on the head and a cookie" gameplay, where there's basically one right solution to each puzzle and you're working it out solely for a feeling of "I AM SO SMRT" once you do.

I found the former - the bridge bit - interesting enough to muddle through most of the game, which wasn't overly difficult, but capable of getting frustrating (more on that in a bit.) The latter I've been dealing with for over 20 years of gaming right now, and frankly, games of this type feel a bit manipulative to me now. Maybe that's why I'm not laid out on the floor unable to stop myself from twitching epileptically at how great this game is, I dunno.

But I think it's more that the game's internal physics aren't as great as they're made out to be. They're pretty good, and once you've got the grasp of them, most levels work in a way that makes sense. If you screw something up, you see why. Conversely, if you plot out a plan that should work by all accounts, it usually works. However, not always. There's one early puzzle that jumps out as an example - you have to build a bridge over a spike pit by using balloons to buoy your goo balls. Now, I don't expect "realistic" physics from a game starring sentient globs. However, what I do expect is internal consistency - when something has been working a certain way, I expect it to keep working that way unless some obvious external influence ... er ... influences it. There's a point in this level, however, where balloons just start taking off like they have afterburners for no apparent reason when you place them. Wut? Every now and then throughout the game, you get an instance of bizarro inexplicable physics popping up.

The game also becomes a little needlessly random in that your goo balls constantly circulate around the existing structure for no apparent or necessary reason. They can randomly clump up at an unsupported point while doing this, trashing all your hard work. It's the kind of random factor that's really hard to plan for and often seems unfair. Also, when you have multiple ball types circulating together, it's a real pain in the ass having to click on the mass over and over until you finally manage to get hold of the one you were after. And there's these little things called "time bugs" floating about, often in the thick of the action. These guys are meant as little cheats of a sort, to allow you to go back a turn when you click on them. However, it's very possible to accidentally click on one that's drifting around near your current building point.

It's a neat game, with cute visuals and nice music. More of it is enjoyable than not. I look forward to seeing what 2D Boy comes up with next. But one of the top 10 games ever? Or even top 100? You gotta be high on goo fumes.

Links :

* World of Goo demo

Videos :

* Gameplay Video
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