I don’t usually go for the casual games but I’m making an exception for World of Gooo. It is a terribly, terribly addictive puzzle game that will suck you in for hours. I totally blame Shamus for bringing it to my attention. I read about it on his page, watched the video, read a review someone linked in comments and was intrigued. So I went and downloaded the demo which is actually the whole Chapter 1 (out of 4) of the game. I grabbed it from FilePlanet but in retrospect it was terrible, terrible idea due to the long queues. Which, actually says something about the game. I downloaded stuff from FilePlanet before (Morrowind mods mostly) and I never had to wait in a queue.
World of Goo Wait time was over 40 minutes for me. I just opened the window and went to make myself some dinner. When I came back the thing downloaded. I launched the game and… Well, needless to say, next thing I knew was that it was 3AM in the morning and I needed to stop messing around with the goo-bals and go to sleep. Well, that and get the full game cause I like totally used up the demo in that time. Seriously.
I highly recommend checking it out, but you will probably want to avoid FilePlanet and use one of the alternate download locations. Either that or just get the Demo via Steam. If I knew there was a Steam version I would never bother with the FilePlanet shit.
What is the object of this game? You build wobbly structures by connecting silly looking balls of goo to get to a hard to reach target. That could be a whole game in itself and it would probably keep you amused for hours. It is a blast just to sit there playing with the physics of connecting the balls and keeping these structures from keeling over. But the game constantly throws in new twists into the gameplay. For example, no two stages in Chapter 1 are alike. You start with simple stuff such as building towers. Then you graduate to building bridges over wide gaps of terrain. You learn how to wedge your structures between walls. You learn how to support them with helium balloons to make even longer, wobblier bridges. There is one level which is a hexagonal tumbler forcing you to build a structure that can be rolled over on it’s side or upside down and still work. Every time you start a new level you can expect to be surprised and challenged in a new, entertaining way.
Unlike many other puzzle games there is no one correct solution for each level. Many other games force you accomplish tasks in particular way, and their puzzles seem like a game of “figure out how the designers want me to do this”. World of Goo is different – the game play is entirely free-form and you never feel like you need to follow specific patterns to succeed. The game gives you hints along the way but it never really prods you or shows you how to do things. You are your own master, and whenever you figure out a way to complete a level while saving more goo-balls you feel immense sense of accomplishment.
All the extra balls you rescue in each level, go into the World of Goo Corporation area which is a sandbox where you can use them to build a tower. There is an online component to this which you can enable. Once you do you will see funky little clouds appear above and below your tower. These signify how tall are the towers created by the other players. So you can have a sort of competition going on with all the other World of Goo folks out there. It’s probably worth adding that you can go back and replay every level at any time you want to see if you can score better (and thus gain more goo-balls for your tower).
The game is visually stunning – the levels are designed astonishingly well, with great attention to detail. Strong art direction gives the game a unique look, which accompanied by the cute sound effects and a lot of humor make for an incredible experience. Not to mention that the game will run on just about anything ranging from a toaster to your high end gaming rig.
It is almost hard to believe that this incredibly polished, detailed and meticulously designed product is an indie game written from scratch by two guys working out of local coffe-shops. Yep, there was no huge dev-team behind this title. Just two dudes with their laptops. Which is all the more reason to give them some of your money right now. At $20 this game is a steal. You won’t regret buying it, unless of course you miss couple of deadlines due to it’s highly addictive nature. Hell, you will feel better about yourself when you buy it knowing that your hard earned cash helped to support two talented independent game developers.