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World of Goo is charming, funny, visually striking, and probably the best game I didn’t play during 2008. I haven’t been this surprised by a puzzle game since portal.

The closest gaming relative is clearly grandfather Lemmings; guide creatures from A to B, with a mix of different scenarios and creature types to keep things fresh. In its most basic form, the objective of each level is to build a structure out of goo balls that reaches the exit point. Physics also come into play, and you need to be aware of how stable your structure is at all times. On many occasions I was franticly willing my tower of goo to stay up, seconds before it all came crashing down.

Rather than a collection of separate puzzles, the levels of World of Goo follow the misadventures of the goo balls- with the mysterious sign painter providing bizarre narration and subtle hints, as they progress on their surreal journey.

Perhaps the only glaring flaw is the difficulty to pick out specific goo balls from a crowd, but, as time is never really of the essence, it’s never more than a minor frustration. It’s quite short as well, but it feels deliberately lean. World of Goo never sticks with any idea for too long, and every level has something new, or a twist on a familiar theme. There’s even a point in the latter stages where it almost becomes a different game for a few levels. This is matched by the wonderful musical landscape, which flows from upbeat and manic, to noir, to Vangelis-esque electronic.

What 2DBoy have created is a vibrant, polished game that drips with love and attention to detail. World of Goo is insidiously delightful, and the demo is available here.

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