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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about physics and puzzle solving in this two-dimensional brain bender. The game's stretchy goo balls allow players to erect towers that believably -- if not perfectly –- obey the rules of gravity and structural physics. Kids will glean an understanding of the factors that weigh into building sturdy foundations for large structures as they solve puzzles that require them to make effective use of minimal building resources. World of Goo's delightful interactive features may help spark kids' interest in a wide range of topics and careers, from video game design to engineering and architecture.
The tiny senient goo balls are used to make structures. There is an overall message about using ingredients in cosmetics and such, but it isn't well flushed out.
Ease of Play
The puzzles get progressively harder, but are set up to encourage experimentation. It isn't hard to figure out how to play, but it can be challenging to win each puzzle.
Violence & Scariness
The goo blobs, which are depicted as semi-intelligent (they have little roving eyeballs), can fall down crevices to their doom. Big pink face balls can get ground up into smaller balls. They can also be impaled on spikes and pop.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that World of Goo contains little in the way of potentially offensive content. Its narrative -- which focuses on semi-intelligent balls of goo being used by a corporation to develop products such as beauty cream and a kind of drink -- contains concepts geared for older players, but there is never anything graphic or scary. However, the puzzle-based play, while intuitive and simple at first, quickly becomes difficult enough that it may frustrate some children. In other words, it's safe for kids to play, but they might not get as much out of it as older tweens, teens, and adult players.
Is It Any Good?
World of Goo is a breath of fresh air in the 2008 video game season that has been overrun to some degree by guns and gore. The googly-eyed goo balls are undeniably endearing creatures, the colourful 2-D environments create a visually satisfying Dr. Seuss-meets-Edward Gorey sort of atmosphere, and the almost ethereal background music often sounds as though it has been pilfered from a Tim Burton film. Plus, the game's clever story about the World of Goo Corporation draws some vague but thoughtful parallels with real-world companies without ever becoming preachy about it.
But it's World of Goo's physics-based conundrums that make the game a truly special -- perhaps even brilliant -- interactive experience. Most puzzles have wonderfully imaginative premises. For example, one level set in a tumbler sends the player's tower falling to the side every couple of seconds. You have to be quick, strategic, and patient, waiting for just the right moments to attach your goo balls to a long, narrow structure that eventually wedges itself between the barrel's rotating sides. The key to all of this goopy fun is how the goo balls are governed by the same physical laws present in our world. All we really need do to solve each puzzle is apply our understanding of real-world forces such as gravity and wind. It makes for wonderfully intuitive play that has potential to appeal to just about anyone -- though later puzzles are tricky enough that they might prove off-putting to younger players. It's one of the best and most innovative games of the year, and it's dirt cheap, to boot.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.