The age of digitally-distributed media is upon us (I mean just look at this life-altering announcement!
) and in the world of videogames this has most definitely been a good thing.
"Why?" you ask, sweat beading on your forehead in clamorous anticipation...
Because, sirs and madams, it has given more and more startup indie game developers the means to distribute (and thus, the motive to create) games with fresh ideas that stand as beacons of hope in a monotonous minefield of first-person-shooters that have you trudging through monotonous minefields...
Case in point: World of Goo (which should be just about finished downloading to your iPhone anytime now...)
World of Goo is a very strange game that has you building squishy, truss-like structures out of eager and eccentric goo-balls to reach up and up and up...
The game is fun because it taps into that child-like sense of discovery you first satiated in a sandbox during recess, learning through trial-and-error that the world has rules and that you can exploit them to create freakin' castles (and in my case, tunnels and moats to accompany said castles).
In other words, the game is fun because physics are phun (as is, surprisingly, Civil Engineering), and the game's foundation is a cartoony approximation of physics on a 2d-plane that would make Newton proud and quite possibly queasy. The game understands that a sense of true interaction is a videogame's greatest asset; your in-game cursor leaves an ink-blot trail as you whip it around (unless you're in cursorless iOS... in which case I can recommend some affordable fingerpaints to help replicate the effect), frantically grabbing goo-balls who stop and stare at you with a satisfying "pop" as you mouse (finger) over them and who scream in zany mixtures of terror and glee when you toss them or, more constructively, incorporate them into a structure you're building. The constant feedback gives you a sense that you're really an integrated part of this quirky, sarcasm-laced world with direct influence on its viscous inhabitants. Couple this with consistently inventive and imaginative level design that requires an ever-increasing intuitive understanding of the physics (each new level builds on the skills learned in the previous ones without ever repeating quite the same scenario) and a sometimes esoteric but always amusingly satirical sense of humor (with plenty of jabs at corporate America) and you've got a game that blows most big-budget productions out of the water (did I mention it was made by two guys whose office is whatever coffee shop they decide to go to on a given day? One of them is wearing a blue turtleneck which is strange since it's pretty warm out latel.... Oh crap, he sees me!).
If the gameplay sounds very vague and confusing, it's because trying to describe in words such an original concept is akin to verbally listing off a series of notes to convince someone that a melody is compelling. That was an awesome metaphor I just used. Savor it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a 2dBoy
to outrun. Arbitrary Rating: 348 goo-balls