According to Metacritic, World of Goo is the greatest game of all time. It would be hard to argue that it truly comes close, but it's just extremely difficult to fault such a gem of a game for anything. The game came from Tower of Goo from the Experimental Gameplay Project, which cranked out game prototypes in just a week. In its fully realized form for the PC, Mac and Wii, the game is a wonderfully fun and slick puzzler that serves as a great example of an independent game.
World of Goo generally requires the player to build structures with their goo physics to reach a pipe at the end of a level, beating whatever obstacles there may be. There is a limited amount of goo, typically, and the amount you have left over goes to the "World of Goo Corporation" where players try to simply make as tall of a tower as they can with their extra goo balls. The game play is consistently interesting and varied thanks to the many different varieties of goo the game throws out, like matchstick goo and balloons. Each level also sports an "Obsessive Compulsive Distinction Criterion" that gives the player an extra challenge, like completing the level in a certain period of time or number of moves. These features and the general non-linearity of the goo physics provide some replayability, even though the game is fairly long for an independent game. The European release will also include an extra chapter to compensate for the later release.
The game play is quite similar (though a fair amount less frustrating) to that of a Playstation Network game called Elefunk, but World of Goo has a real sense of style that endears the gamer immediately. The art is quirky and well thought out, and the game has a great sense of humor that shines through in the occasional cutscenes. Several of the cutscenes are actually a light satire of a consumer-based society, including one story of an aging stone beauty who mostly rekindled her looks through the World of Goo equivalent of Botox.
There really should have been at least one more piece of music for the game. The few music pieces are fine, but they are reused just a few too many times. Personally, I miss Tower of Goo's accordion piece, which was actually left out of this game. The music is very well implemented in the cutscenes, however, as they add an extra punch to the humor.
A level editor would have been a very welcome feature, particularly for the PC and Mac. This would have given the game infinite possibility and allowed everyone to see what they could do with the delightful physics engine. Alas, there is no such feature, but it is hard to fault a game developer with limited resources for leaving out an extraneous bit.
The game's goo physics provided an excellent toy on their own in the original prototype, and the structured game has turned that concept into a marvel of independent games development. World of Goo offers plenty enough to deserve its $20 price tag, straddling budget titles and full-length games. No, World of Goo is not the greatest game of all time, but it deserves the review scores it gets. It is revitalizing to see a flawless independent game like this in an industry of rising costs and developer oligopolies.
World of Goo is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Mac and Wii.