A few months ago, I picked up the two indie hits, Crayon Physics and World of Goo. It had been a while since I had played a physics-based puzzle game – not since The Incredible Machine. While both games fall into the same genre they have dissimilar mechanics. They also reminded me what I like about the genre when it’s done well. They’re great options when I want a game with puzzles but don’t want the commitment of following a plot. These games have a different type of thinking as well. You’re not applying random logic with items or dialogue but using spatial awareness, thinking about cause and effect, and structural integrity. You’re an architect wielding waxy utensils or sticky, lively blobs.
Crayon Physics has a simple goal: get the little red circle to hit the star. You can create objects on the screen by drawing them with a crayon. Once you complete your stroke of the crayon, the object solidifies and the laws of physics act upon it – gravity causes it to fall straight down, inertia carries it up a slope, etc. You’re allowed to give the red circle a small push but otherwise have to use the objects you create to guide it to the star.
Crayon Physics from the beginning explains that there is no correct solution to each puzzle. The goal is “not about finding just any solution. It’s about finding the awesomest one”. You’re awarded points for creativity but in the end, the object of each level remains the same.
The game starts out very simply; in fact almost too easy. It’s not until much later in the game that the difficulty ramps up. You’re given a few tools further on – pivot points to create swinging objects, rockets that blast off – but even then I only occasionally found myself challenged.
No matter though. I didn’t find Crayon Physics to be the kind of game that demands to be beaten in one sitting. I much rather enjoy playing a few levels now and again when I’m in the mood. The game has a simple art style – what you would expect from a game where you’re drawing with crayons – and a soothing soundtrack that make it a pleasant experience.
Like, Crayon Physics, World of Goo wasn’t a game that I powered through all at once, but rather, one that I can pick up intermittently.
World of Goo is a quirky, physics-based game where you’re helping living balls of goo escape each level. The physics part comes in with the goo balls themselves who can stretch and connect to each other to build structures. The gelatinous structures sway in the wind and bend under their own weight; giving an extra twist when you’re designing skyscrapers and bridges to reach the goal. As the game progresses you’re given more types of goo balls – balloon goo, blind goo, combustible goo and others, which can be used together to complete the levels.
World of Goo has a fun, strange sense of humor with odd goo types, a narrator who leaves you eccentric notes on each level, and a goofy plot that loosely ties the game together.
The game is often quite challenging. Many times however it’s not that I didn’t know what to do; it was just getting the goo to cooperate and managing the hostile environment obstructing the way out.
With a good soundtrack and imaginative levels World of Goo was worth the purchase. I really enjoy starting it up when I’m looking to work my brain a little.