The much-heralded World of Goo arrived on Steam yesterday and, as tends to be the case with me and quirky indie games, I simply couldn’t resist. Could it possibly live up to expectations? Or, to be more specific, could it justify John Walker’s fanatical (but brilliant) ramblings?
So far the answer is an extremely loud, possibly shouted, “YES!” Before I get carried away, though, for fairness’ sake I’ll start with the only two negatives I’ve encountered during my admittedly limited playtime: The game is limited to a rather low resolution which is a bit of a shame given the marvellous visuals – hopefully they’ll fix this somehow in a future update; and selecting the correct goo can be a little fiddly when things get hectic. That’s it. In all other aspects this is a spiffy little game.
Other than the aforementioned screen resolution limitation, which is only really an issue when scaling on some LCD screens, the visuals are glorious in their cartoony vibrancy. It’s the little touches that make the difference, such as the way the goo react when you pick them up and fling them about the level, or the smooth transitions between levels.
For a game constructed by primarily two people it’s a remarkably polished affair in all departments, with music and sound effects a particular joy to listen to, filled with goo cries and quirky Elfmanesque ditties.
In much the same way that Psychonauts is what a Pixar game would be like (ignoring the crap movie tie-ins, obviously), World of Goo is what you’d get if Tim Burton and Henry Selick decided to make a game.
The game itself is a deceptively complex physics puzzler in which you stick multiple goo balls together to build wobbly structures in order to reach the exit. It’s a variant on the classic Lemmings format and it works as well here as it did back in the 90s. After an easy introduction the puzzles soon become quite devilish, with the gradual introduction of different types of goo that completely alter the challenges.
Particularly nifty is the World of Goo Corporation mode, in which you aim to build the tallest tower you can muster out of your spare goos. The twist is that you can see the heights of other towers created by World of Goo players from all around the world, represented as little floating clouds that taunt you from afar. As you can see from my hastily grabbed screenshot above, my tower is currently entirely pathetic.
I’ll have more thoughts on the game when I’ve completed it – at which point I’ll hopefully have a screenshot of a slightly more impressive goo tower.