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When building your goo-structures to solve each level, remember you can go other ways besides up.
Puzzle games are rarely as emotional, funny, and engaging as World of Goo. In its understandable core, you’ll just build structures by connecting living goo balls—the circles latch out arms to grab their close-by neighbors, creating elaborate bridgeworks of interlocking joints. This excellent, fundamental challenge makes a great game. But the layers of beautiful art, goofy sound, and humor piled on top make World of Goo a must-have for anyone who’s ever connected two Lego bricks.
World of Goo begins simply, gradually teaching you different ways to use the goo balls. In nearly every level, you’ll build a tower, bridge, or other structure leading to a mysterious pipe that sucks in the remaining balls. Throughout, you’ll have to keep the assembly balanced—too much weight on one side will crash it into the ground.
The pacing works well, gradually introducing new ball types, such as balloons, reusable balls, and flammable creatures. Players get just enough help to guide them, although many areas stay challenging. A few times, we had to return to a difficult level a day or two later to come up with a solution, and completing any level left us with a sense of accomplishment. Even after finishing the game, we returned to keep playing in different ways, such as rescuing extra balls. An online play area outside of the linear game even compares the height of your towers to others around the world.
Throughout, the eager, animated goo balls bounce and shake wobbly creations, forcing you to build strong foundations. The goo balls’ light attitude matches the rest of the game, with a loose story told through discarded signposts and between-level animations—the darkly funny themes of consumerism and giant corporations held us as much as the puzzles did. Plus, three-fourths of the way through, a major twist reinvents all but the most basic mechanics; the wild, self-referential final stages feel like walking into someone else’s dream.
The graphics and sound maintained these high standards, although the initially inventive background music grew repetitive after many loops. Goo balls squawk gleefully when grabbed, but the lush graphics impressed us most. The visuals are unfortunately locked at 800 by 600 pixels unless you manually alter a hidden configuration file. But even at that mediocre resolution, the layers of color and movement are stunning. We cranked the resolution to 1,680 by 1,050 pixels on a Mac Pro and maintained smooth framerates, showing sharper details. However, a few glitches crept into the otherwise stable game in this unsupported mode. (We informed 2D Boy about these issues, and they plan to release a patch to address them.)
World of Goo’s funny, emotional story and solid puzzle premise form an excellent, unique game.
COMPANY: 2D Boy
REQUIREMENTS: G4, G5, or Intel processor; Mac OS 10.4 or later
Creative, fundamental building puzzle. Off-kilter story and humor hung over puzzle foundation. Extra ways to play after finishing the game. Vibrant art conveys emotion. Works great on midrange and older Macs. Bug-free in our sessions when playing in supported modes. Universal binary.
Have to change a hidden file to play at higher resolutions than 800 by 600 pixels, which can cause a temporary visual bug.