Geese sure are some of the biggest dicks in the animal kingdom, aren’t they? Wasps, cats, hippos, badgers, and… geese. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation for why something as seemingly innocuous as a goose could just be a total asshole, bent on ruining some unsuspecting human’s day. Even if you haven’t personally been assailed by one of these little shits, I’m sure you’ve seen videos showcasing their penchant for assaulting passerby. Here are a few. As you can see, these fellas have an insatiable thirst for blood.
So, for some reason, maybe due to a deep rooted hatred for their fellow humans, Australian developer, House House, decided to harness this malevolence into Untitled Goose Game, their new release for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC via Epic Game Store. The game involves playing as an entity we will simply called The Goose. In Untitled Goose Game, your mission is to be a pestilence in the everyday lives of innocent villagers. It’s a stealth/puzzle game which you accomplish such deeds by interacting with the objects the villagers use. In one area, it could be a rake, or trying to lock a groundskeeper out of his grounds by stealing his keys and hiding them while closing the gate shut behind you. Or it could be knocking scaring a little boy to the point that his glasses fall off and you pick those up while swapping them with the wrong glasses, essentially blinding him.
The game offers a linear progression by issuing a checklist of objectives. Some rather obvious and others vague enough to require critical thinking. They can be as simple as finding said object and moving it to a specific or named point. But they can also be multiple step processes that require the player to interact with various objects and characters. As The Goose, you’ll do lots of sneaking, making use of your environment, as well as the dedicated “honk” button to distract or lure villagers.
The mechanics of the game usually work well, but at times can be a little clunky, especially when there are multiple objects within close proximity of each other. This is rarely frustrating because of the laid back nature of the game. There is no penalty for being caught or even a way to lose the game. So, you can play at your own pace. The game is also very pretty, with a very subdued art style and simple but stark color palette.
One of the most noteworthy mechanics is the dynamic soundtrack. Piano strikes and other goofy arrangements sync with your actions in the game and mirror The Goose’s footsteps, or the moment they interact with an item. It adds to the charm of the game and results in a nice audio/visual feedback. You’re often able to use the music as a cue for what you are doing correctly. Another great system in the game is the way the AI villagers interact with The Goose. They’re usually going about preset paths or behaviors, but will break from them to take things back from The Goose and place them back where they go. They’ll also react accordingly to prompts from the game and never did I see the AI act in a way that didn’t make sense within the context of what was occurring.
There isn’t much of a story in the traditional sense. There is no narrative, or anything else explicit. The game’s story is implicit and results purely from gameplay. It ends in just the right amount of time at around three or four hours, depending on how long some of the solutions take the player. With that said, the ending is fitting and brings the few hours full circle.
I found myself laughing constantly throughout Untitled Goose Game. It is a charming, cathartic experience that allowed me to live vicariously through a malevolent goose and project some of my misanthropy and frustrations with people onto said goose; who deserves to be on the pantheon of great gaming villains. Untitled Goose Game is a unique experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Also, there’s just something delightful about nefariously honking in the faces of some humans and interrupting their seemingly pristine lives. The fact that myself and many others are enjoying the schadenfreude this game provides perhaps says something about us and the way we find relief in the misfortune of others. Considering that this game gives the player an outlet to cause mischief and gleefully meddle in the contentment of people, I think the point is that geese aren’t nature’s ultimate assholes, we are.
Untitled Goose Game was purchased from the Nintendo eShop and played on Nintendo Switch.