Even if you've played it on another platform, you've never experienced anything like World of Goo on the iPad. Constructing goo-based towers, bridges and... other things from little balls of living goo has never been so easy -- or so tactile. And the game is surprisingly beautiful, too, considering the subject matter. If you like physics-based puzzlers, or just really, really good games, you're going to want to read the rest of this review!
2D Boy's puzzle game is brilliant. You are a on a mission to assist multiple little globular creatures in their mission of exploration (and escape) from their odd little existence. Someone is always one step ahead of you, a mysterious Sign Painter that leaves multi-layered wooden signs about each area, dropping hints about how to solve your latest goo-based task, as well as tidbits about the goings on of the world at large, especially concerning the somewhat sinister World of Goo Corporation. He also likes to leave the occasional message just for the sake of his own amusement, but that's neither here nor there.
To help the gooey little fellows, you must get them to work together, touching and dragging each individual into a connection with others via surprisingly solid but rubbery arms that are reminiscent of melted mozzarella -- only generally in shades other than white. Using careful planning, you can build the goo balls into towering structures, bridges, and more. These structures are extremely flexible and can be all to easily destroyed by the world around them, or their own weight if it is not properly managed. When you have built to the point that you finally reach the exit point -- which is generally a vacuum-tube that leads to a jar -- the goo balls that are remaining will travel up or across the structure and be sucked out of the stage. Therein lies the final trick of the game. Each stage has a requirement of how many balls must escape. If you don't meet it, you can't complete the level.
This game is just fascinating. There is no other way to explain it, really. There is a story, and more and more of it is revealed as World of Goo progresses, but it is the setting that really draws you in. The intriguing puzzles and the weirdness of the method are only the beginning. What really makes everything stand out in the end, and propels the game forward, is the very quirky, very good art. It's all very Tim Burton, really, or perhaps how I would envision him putting together his own take on an animated Dr. Suess movie. It also reminds me a lot of Genndy Tartakovsky's work -- the fellow who did Samurai Jack and Dexter's Laboratory -- as does the game's compelling use of moody music and sound effects.
There are several different goo creatures you will encounter in World of Goo, each with its own attributes -- or personality, as the Sign Painter would tell it. The first is the black goo ball, who is used only to construct things. Once one of these guys is in play, that's the end of it for him. He is now just an escape path for his fellows that are still free roaming. There are also green goo balls who can be detached from the structure and put back into play, or moved somewhere else for support. These guys are good for creating a structure that can climb up itself. White-ish goo balls are like stretchy tear-drop ropes, and there are some supportive fellows that act like helium balloons that help keep goo from falling to spiky deaths.
Stages run the gambit from a simple tower or bridge, to climbing out of a spinning room, to regurgitating the goo (which is apparently quite tasty) out of the stomach of a freaky giant. There is a lot going on within World of Goo's apparent simplicity, and vats of replay value, as well. You can replay a stage for points, trying to use as few goo balls as possible, or you can attempt to achieve each stage's OCD (Obsessive Completion Distinction) criteria -- which is not easy.
If you get tired of playing the stages, you can enter the World of Goo Corporation's headquarters, which is unlocked in the first group of stages. This is where all of your extra goo balls -- the ones rescued over and above a stage's quota -- will be waiting for you to build them into the tallest tower in all the world. It's not multiplayer, per se, but the cloud does come into play here -- literally. Other users that are online are also building towers in the Corporation's headquarters, and they are represented as clouds. You get to see their usernames (a maximum of 200 at a time), and how high their tower is. The higher a tower gets, the higher the cloud raises above the lesser beings, so play on!
I can't say enough that is good about World of Goo. This is a game that must be experienced! It's fun, addictive, and totally weird in the most appealing ways possible. It is also immensely satisfying when you complete a stage, and the art and music are among some of the best and most unique of any game I've ever come across. The only issue anyone might have with World of Goo is the price tag -- a hefty $9.99 -- but, even as cheap as I am when it comes to iOS games (and I am very, very cheap...), I have not once regretted my purchase. I do think there should be a lite version to get people who aren't willing to take the plunge hooked in, though. I have very little doubt that they will upgrade at their earliest opportunity. One of the best iPad games out there, hands down!