Ball of Woe
Ball of Woe is an interesting game from Aussie devs Doppler Interactive. It’s interesting simply because how much the game may or may not hate you. The game is a puzzler that will try and be nice to you just to get you through the early levels, but the difficulty curve begins to move upward quicker than you’d think. The titular Ball is going to be pushed by you, much like the ancient story of Sisyphus, the ball is the cause of Woe and you are to march it through each puzzle. You tap to place a stick and the force of it pushes your woeful ball to the next area and
The game has a great amount of puzzles that you lead the ball through with great difficulty. I’m not sure if it’s a specific design choice, but imagine the classic Puzzle Baller, Kula World (or Roll Away for the Yanks) with the most realistic set of gravity physics you could imagine. The game is hard, is possibly the simplest way I could say it, but in that challenge there is definitely satisfaction.
The first level I played, I struggled – I really struggled – to get the ball around the simple maze and just right before I thought the ordeal was over, there was a ramp. Of all things, a ramp stood in my way. It may as well have been a massive wall made of titanium, but I struggled and tapped and finally completed it. The next level, was Nicetown. It was not nice.
Those sticks, better known as puffs, push your ball through the level. As you go through more levels, you gain more Woe, the more Woe you have. You can then upgrade your ball and your puffs. Of course, you can just pay to level up, but that is your choice. The game is one of patience and properly thought out movements. Don’t expect a roll and goal experience (the ball version of “run and gun”). Take your time, think it through, or you may just become more woeful.
Graphically, Ball of Woe may not look like much. It’s a three dimensional sphere just going through levels but it’s the little details you see with each level and ball that really show off how great the game is. The comic book styled dialogue, the different types of balls, the range of characters and variation in levels really keep the player engaged and will hopefully be enough for them to get through to the next level.
The game is tough and I’m worried at times that the difficulty curve may turn some players off playing further along, there is of course, a paid version. The game’s patchwork design and differences in puffs and descriptions is cutesy but only to pull you into its aesthetic. Overall, the game is just as depressing as the title. It was great of Doppler to make sure that it overall doesn’t bring you down and let you down at the same time. The game is visually appealing, but I can see a lot of people turned off by the style. That being said, the bears in the game are cute and I want a little plush one to sit on a shelf in my room…maybe the whole set.
It times it may not be the best looking and can often seem cutesy for the sake of cutesy, but the overall experience is a feeling of a world that is trying to be colourful and bright in a truly depressing state of affairs. Whether that’s the existential view of the void or nihilistic view of the void, the colours are a distraction and I might have analysed this a bit too much.
The game has a nice very laidback set of tunes to lull you into a false sense of security. The game has a great range of sound effects with each time you drop a puff or when your ball jumps. When you go to the next screen or accept something a snare hit sounds off and your march of woefulness continues. The game is overall trying to push against the distress that may be surrounding the little bears that are a part of the world.
- Great colour palette
- Cute characters and music
- Engaging and dynamic writing
- The game’s difficulty curve may kill you
- Overthinking the game
- Menu design can be frustrating at times
While the game may not be for everyone, I enjoyed Ball of Woe. With each frustrating level, you want more but then again you don’t. It’s like sitting in a single room with one light and a box of donuts. You could just have one, you could, but then again you could have two, and then an hour later the box is gone and you’ve tried your hardest and maybe that just wasn’t enough. Ball of Woe is tough, funny and woeful.