A perfect mix of wackiness with brilliance and fun with challenge
World of Goo is a puzzle game, and all the levels have just about the same goal: build up your mass of goos to reach the pipe, which will suck up any remaining goos, and if you collect enough goos you win the level. It sounds simple enough, but World of Goo thrives on mixing a simple goal with some challenging scenarios. You will sometimes have to build over dangerous obstacles or even float your goos to your destination. The variety of ways to clear each level makes it so the game never gets old, and even up to the very end the game feels totally fresh and exciting.
To help the game retain that fresh feel there are also many types of goos to work with and learn about. Your average goo will stick to two or more goos nearby when placed, but special types of goos can be reattached, resist spikes, or stick to any moving object indefinitely, to name a few. These are all introduced to you at a steady pace throughout the game to keep it fresh without overwhelming you. The only disadvantage to all the types of goos is perhaps World of Goos' only true flaw, and that is that it's sometimes hard to grab a particular type of goo. The goos are often bunched together so that you can't grab that pink balloon you need because three black goos are moving along past it as well. Thankfully this very rarely costs you anything except slight irritation.
Even if you do end up losing the puzzle because of that, there are time bugs to help you out. These little bugs are flying around on the screen, and there are often quite a few of them in a level. Clicking on one will move you back in time to your last move so you can try it again without restarting the whole level. Naturally, this comes in handy on many occasions. This also helps make the game more user-friendly, therefore improving the game's accessibility. Also helping that along is the ability to skip a certain number of levels throughout the game. If you are so badly stuck on a level that you absolutely can't figure it out, you can skip it and return to it later. While this seems like cheating I think it works wonderfully to allow just about anyone to reach the game's end, which you will not want to miss. The limited number of skips allowed also makes it so the feature can't be overused, perfectly balancing out the game's challenge factor.
And challenging World of Goo most certainly is. World of Goo puts you in some pretty difficult scenarios, and you are constantly using all your intelligence to fight the game's excellent physics engine and difficult situations. The difficulty is so well balanced by the time bugs and skips, though, that you never feel overwhelmed, and you can simply keep going without much delay. Of course, figuring out the puzzles is part of the fun in the game, so you might not even feel inclined to use any skips. The game's brilliance makes it a joy to play, so the challenge is actually welcome to make you appreciate the game all the more and make you use your brain while playing a video game. What a concept!
To add some value and even more challenge to World of Goo, there is an OCD challenge in every level. These are occasionally somewhat easy, but most of the time they are really hard to do. They involve collecting as many goos as is made possible by the level or completing a level within a certain time limit. These are good for players looking for more gameplay and even greater challenges, and there is a great sense of accomplishment every time you clear one. Without the OCD challenges the game lasts for roughly 5-7 hours, which is pretty decent considering the $15 price point.
World of Goo is a truly interesting game from start to finish, and the plot also helps to keep you interested. It complements the game very nicely, because it's strange but brilliant, much like the rest of the game. The story isn't told to you in cutscenes or dialogue as in most games, but it is hinted at throughout the game by the mysterious 'Sign Painter.' There are signs to read in every level, on which the Sign Painter tries to help you or just says something funny to hint at the game's world, occurring events, and the plot. I really can't give anything away because I want you to experience it for yourself and also it's kind of hard to explain. The plot is simply brilliant, and even though it's a puzzle game World of Goo's story complements the other aspects in a better way than you might expect.
But all this brilliance would go to waste if World of Goo didn't play well, so thankfully the game plays almost perfectly! Aside from the issue I described earlier with picking up a certain type of goo, the game's controls work very well. The Wii remote's pointer is almost as effective as a computer mouse in this game, and the controls can almost always keep up with the action. Nothing in the game will ever frustrate you either (again, with the exception of not being able to grab a particular type of goo very easily) so the game remains challenging and fun all at the same time.
World of Goo also looks pretty fantastic. Everything animates very realistically with a smooth frame rate. The physics engine also makes for some great graphical moments, like when a tower of goo is leaning back and forth, and the tension increases. The individual goos are also animated very well, and they are actually given personality in their facial expressions as their eyes widen when they're about to get killed and such.
And the sound department compliments the game's personality also. The goos make funny noises a lot, like when they're dying or getting picked up. The music is also very good and fitting to the game, each song is fun and catchy. The soundtrack was even requested by many players, so one of the few people who worked on World of Goo put a soundtrack together and it's available on the Internet for free.
World of Goo is, quite simply, one of the most brilliant games I have ever played. That brilliance shines through in its puzzles and story, and it manages to be weird all the while and still feel ingenious. The game is also fun, but very challenging, and the difficulty is perfectly balanced out by the available time bugs and skips. World of Goo is a fantastic game that's easily recommendable to just about anyone.
+ intuitive puzzles
+ challenging without being overwhelming
+ time bugs and skips balance out the difficulty very nicely
+ wacky personality makes it a lot of fun
+ excellent physics engine
+ entertaining story that is unfolded in a very unique way
+ graphics and sound compliment the game nicely
- sometimes hard to grab a particular goo
LAST WORD: World of Goo perfectly mixes wackiness with brilliance and fun with a challenge. It might well be the best downloadable game you ever purchase.