If you had told me that I would be playing a video game based on a candy snack this year I would probably believe you. If you told me that I would genuinely enjoy the experience and not in some kind of funny ironic way I would have said mean things to you, but believe it or not that’s the case with World Gone Sour.
Read on to see why World Gone Sour might be one of the biggest surprises of the year.
In the world of World Gone Sour the candies the game is based on are somewhat self-aware and have one goal in their chewy, delicious life: to be eaten. You play as “the green guy” who had the misfortune of falling between the seats of a movie theater to unfortunately not be eaten. Somehow the game gets more bizarre from here.
At its core, World Gone Sour is a fairly standard 2D platformer with traditional methods. But, in addition to the usual fluff of jumping gaps, swinging from point to point and killing enemies by jumping on their heads, you’ll find some more interesting aspects which revolve around your fellow Sour Patch Kids.
Scattered throughout each level you’ll find a few other ‘stranded’ candies who will join up with you in your mission to get eaten and will prove absolutely vital to your success. Without them you can’t perform one of the most important gameplay elements of the game. Using your little friends, you can grow in size by absorbing them into yourself which makes you more powerful and lets you jump higher/farther.
Utilizing this mechanic is one of the most frequently used tools in the game and can be vital to completing certain areas so you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for any stranded candies and rescue them. Once you’ve saved a candy they’ll follow you for the rest of the level and, while they can unfortunately be killed by the environment, they’ll always respawn after a short period of time so as to not leave you without a means to advance.
Since you’ll be throwing them around a lot to hit switches or take out enemies, this is a very welcome design element that erases the worry of accidentally killing too many of your buddies. In fact the game actively encourages killing them in delightfully horrible ways and offers a challenge on each level for completing a certain number of environmental kills. These range from drowning them in pop or setting them on fire to impaling them and all manner of other amazingly awful deaths.
In addition to the size changing mechanic, you’ll also be swinging from hooks, jumping on trampolines and all other manner of traditional platforming systems that are all done extremely well. Some of the areas can be a little tricky to get past on the first time, but the game never gets too hard and is pretty good at keeping a constant challenging pace that’s never too hard.
The game is periodically narrated in a delightfully tongue-in-cheek manner, and before too long you realize that the game is very self aware about how silly the entire premise is. The fact that it acknowledges this fact actually serves to make the game better overall and made me look forward to the next time the narrator would speak up.
This comes up when you come across another Sour Patch Kid and the narrator makes note that he’ll probably turn up as a boss later. I’m not going to spoil anything, but he totally does. In fact there are a few different boss fights in the game that continue the trend of being fairly standard but imaginative enough to stand on their own feet.
The game uses a very charming visual aesthetic throughout that creatively builds on the concept of the stranded candies living in a world under our feet, creating their own culture from scavenged items. Popsicle sticks, toothpicks and the like become building materials and weapons and feel like something you would actually see in such a world if it existed.
While the game is fairly solid throughout there is one glaring fault that stands out which must be mentioned, and that’s the load times. Whether you’re loading a game from the menu or just sitting between levels the game takes an incredibly long time to load up everything to the point where I was worried it had frozen on at least one occasion. Once in the game everything is incredibly smooth, however, and it’s not a deal breaker but must be mentioned.
World Gone Sour is repeatedly aware of what it is and never tries to venture outside that comfort zone which is to the benefit of the game. While it isn’t going to change the way we look at platformers, it’s an extremely solid outing that has plenty to offer in an incredibly fun and delightful package. The game is fairly short and can get a little repetitive at times, but for the price of entry that’s being asked, these issues are easily overlooked. A true surprise that is worth taking a second look at.