World of Goo

World of GooI’m kind of late to this one given that it was a pretty big cult hit late last year, but the game that kept me from finishing Resident Evil 5 over the long Easter weekend wasn’t some big budget AAA title but World of Goo: a physics-based puzzle game developed by a team of two guys. Having been a darling of the independent gaming community for a while, it got released for WiiWare and has subsequently come out for various operating systems, and it was its inclusion in this year’s MacHeist that finally got me to play it.

At the time of writing my profile reckons I’ve been playing for around seven and a half hours, and that’s almost entirely been over the long weekend, a quick dabble with the demo when it was getting a lot of positive buzz aside. To my shame I brushed it off then, so consider this post my atonement.

I absolutely adore this game. It’s typical of the best indie games in the way that it’s built fun gameplay around a simple, strong central concept, and everything else from the sharp, detailed graphics with bags of personality to the jaunty, Elfman-esque soundtrack (free download here) has a couple of really great pieces. Even the writing, largely coming through the unseen ‘Sign Writer’, is often clever and loaded with in-jokes.

One moment that stuck with me was the beginning of the fourth world, the Information Superhighway. Whereas all previous levels had been similarly themed, here things are thrown into the green and black digital world, and even the gameplay changes to match the new design. New mechanics like the ability to ‘infect’ pieces to give them different properties and the use of gravity to curve shots around a planetoid are a complete switch from the basic bridge and tower building that made up the previous three worlds. That’s not to say the rest of it isn’t inventive, because it certainly is, but I think it speaks volumes about how much invention is in here that it can be so suddenly switched around.

Now I know how long this has been out so it’s quite likely that people have played it, but I also know what proportion of the players actually paid for it – so much for the ‘we only pirate because of DRM’ story, eh? Trust me: it’s more than worth the $20.

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