Incredibly innovative and fun. A mind bending masterpiece
You probably haven't heard much about World of Goo yet, and that is kind of a shame. It is easily one of the greatest puzzle games of all time, and the best 2D game to come out in this current hardware era. If you passed up this gem back in 2008, by all means, play it immediately.
The best puzzle games of all time, (e.g. Lemmings, Lode Runner, etc) all have a few things in common. They start off relatively easy by introducing some simple and versatile game mechanics, giving you an opportunity to learn the basics of the game while solving simple puzzles. Then, they add progressively harder challenges, giving you new tools and tricks to deal with them. When they are done teaching you a set of rules, they take the training wheels off and let you solve problems as you see fit. Later puzzles can only be solved after learning some tricks from previous puzzles. Humor and presentation always help.
World of Goo has it all. It starts with a great concept. In this game, you build rubbery structures by connecting dots (known as "goo balls") together to form a wobbly lattice. Different colored balls have different properties. Red balls burn, black balls can only be placed once, green balls can be moved repeatedly, and so on. Sort of like Lemmings, most maps have traps, like spikes, that will wreck your structure if it sways or hangs into them.
The concept is novel and ingenious, but it doesn't end there. It is implemented to near perfection. The physics engine in the game is robust, and everything in it happens procedurally. General concepts like weight, friction, and inertia are modeled adequately. Building a large structure is difficult and it requires precision, since the bonds that hold everything together are not rigid and will fold under a lot of weight. Thus, you must find ways to stabilize structures, like placing balls in spots that reinforce the base. Mechanical Engineering 101, eat your heart out.
The game does a great job of giving you a substantially different challenge with each puzzle. They range in difficulty from moderate to hard, and they are all satisfying without being overly frustrating. By virtue of the freedom that you have in placing balls, each puzzle has a nearly infinite number of solutions.
To top off the immensely fun goo ball building mechanics, the game comes with a colorful, cartoonish, and wacky presentation that comes right out of the insane asylum. What else would you say about a game where one of the challenges is to build a structure to climb out of a stomach? Each level is marked by a sign that leaves cryptic, slightly humorous messages that give you the feeling that somebody is watching or guiding you. It features cel-shaded, 2D graphics that look great despite the minimal technology required to produce them. The balls themselves have a lot of personality and make energetic noises whenever you place them. It is all very unique and unconventional. World of Goo seems like a collaboration between a Nobel Prize-winning MIT engineer and a demented artist.
World of Goo comes across as a game that was extensively play tested before it was released. It is every bit the charming and highly addictive experience that a great puzzle game should game. Upon completing each puzzle, the first thing that you will want to do is begin the next one. To your delight, you will find that there are at least a few dozen of them, and none of them will disappoint you, giving you full value for your money. Every year or two, a game comes along that reignites and my passion for and my faith in gaming, and in 2008, World of Goo was that game. It was the best game on any platform from that year, and it is well worth whatever you pay for it, and then some.