Thirteen years ago, on October 13 (how spooky!), 2008, a game was unleashed upon the world that caused quite the stir. It was unlike any game any before it. Except…well…this little game called Lemmings that also rippled the game waters considerably back in 1991. But, the game I’m speaking on is World of Goo, an indie darling that brought “goo balls” into the hearts and minds of curious players everywhere. World of Goo is a unique construction-puzzle game that may not seem spoopy at first – in fact, it looks oddly adorable if nothing else. Once one gets into the game, however, its more macabre side becomes quite evident.
The story of the World of Goo is hard to describe, so I’ll leave that to the game’s developer:
World of Goo is an award winning a physics based puzzle / construction game. The millions of Goo Balls who live in the beautiful World of Goo don’t know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious.—2D Boy
Sounds perfectly weird, right? Well, it is, and that’s what makes it so great and so very spoopy. The goo balls themselves are very cute and innocent-looking. All they want to do is get as high as they can to see “far-away new lands” – a simple, meaningful request — and it’s up to the player to do just that by building various structures for them. With each level, players must save a certain number of goo balls in order to progress, and, along the way, try not to lose them to various horrible fates, from falling into bottomless holes to (gulp!) death by sawblade.
Serving as the game’s backdrop is the World of Goo Corporation. This strange conglomerate has both served and destroyed its world and its inhabitants through its various goo products. In fact, it’s revealed that most of the googly-eyed goo balls that players had been saving were not actually saved at all, but were rather amalgamated into the corporation’s products! Oh sure, the game tries to reassure that they were simply whisked away to the “Tower of Goo Memorial Park and Recreation Center,” but we all know what that means! As the game advances, the goo balls find themselves in increasingly dangerous and eerie situations. The areas in which they must progress become more industrial, smoggy, and even plain ol’ scary. Indeed, there’s nothing quite like trying to keep one’s goo balls out of fire and brimstone to foster some hair-raising and stressful adventures.
In the end, the World of Goo Corporation becomes its own worst enemy, and at least some of the goo balls find peace in a new home, but it’s far recompense for all the goo balls lost along the way. Knowing that the goo balls don’t know exactly what’s going on is very unsettling. And yet, the game, with such well-designed mechanics, is very welcoming and enticing; life with the goo balls is all rainbow and roses tinged with just a little mystery, at first. The goo balls’ fates may be sealed, but that doesn’t detract from the game’s addictive nature – saving them is as fun as it is imperative. World of Goo‘s charming façade eventually gives way to something far more sinister, and yet, one must keep going, through the delightful and into the disturbing, for goo balls one and all!
In-line image taken from World of Goo (© 2D Boy) presskit on IGDB.com.