The goose that broke the internet.
- Developer: House House
- Publisher: Panic Inc
- Release date: 20th September 2019
- Genre: Stealth, Puzzle
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, MAC & Windows PC
- Reviewed on: Windows PC
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
By now you must have heard of the amazing artwork known as Untitled Goose Game, the game where you simply play as a troublemaking goose. Conceptually, it’s very simplistic; however, as soon as you pick up the controller you know this isn’t going to be your everyday troublemaking goose game. There’s a goose loose aboot this hoose!
For me, 2019 has been rather lacklustre when it comes to indie games. There hasn’t been one stand-out indie game that has grabbed me or anyone else for a long time. When this game was announced it caused a small stir in the community. Everyone hates geese, no matter who you are, everyone has had at least one run-in with a mad goose. This game perfectly caters to everyone with the simple honk of a feathered troublemaker.
This game is so perfectly charismatic and starts with you, a goose, poking your adorable head out of a nearby bush. You are given a basic tutorial on how to do typical goosy things: waddle around, honk, flap your wings and use your beak; simple controls for a simple goose. Then you’re let loose on a cosy English countryside village; the type of place where everyone knows everyone, and they all smile and wave good morning to each other. Apparently, as a goose, that irritates you, so you decide to unleash the seven layers of feathered hell on these unsuspecting village dwellers.
In each section of the village, you are given a list of devious deeds to complete. These can range from simply creating a lovely picnic (by stealing all the items on the list), giving people concussion (by dropping metal buckets on their head) all the way to malicious damage of public property. I’m not going to lie, there is a great sense of satisfaction when you mess with the villagers. At no point do you question whether they deserve this or what wrong they must have done the goose at some point. You simply embody the goosy mantra of “F*** you,” and mess with everything in sight.
It’s not a long game by any stretch; the main campaign lasts about 2-3 hours, depending on how much you veer off track. But for this type of game, it’s the perfect length. Any longer and I feel that the satisfaction of messing with people would wear off. However, once you have completed the main story, you are then given an extra set of challenges to complete. These challenges involve a little more finesse than those of the main story, with ever more sneaking around and not getting spotted in the hope of finding things that weren’t as obvious before. Even after you complete those challenges, you are given more to complete which are time based. This game, as should be clear by this point, has a lot of replay value in it.
With its minimalistic graphics and its pastel-coloured visuals, Untitled Goose Game has a charming countryside feel to it. Each person is bereft of facial expressions (or even eyes, for that matter) which brings more attention to the body language of each character. To see a teenage boy jump up in fright and run away from a honking goose gives me a goosy sense of satisfaction.
The piano score that accompanies the goose throughout his village journey works perfectly with the charming, yet chaotic feel of the game. Every time the goose starts to cause just a slight amount of chaos the piano score begins; the more trouble the goose causes the more chaotic it becomes. It pairs very well with the personality of the game. The villagers will every so often gasp at your presence or grumble at the fact that you’ve just stolen yet another one of their possessions. However, the best sound design of this game by far is the honk of the goose; each honk is different. The thing that made me laugh the hardest was picking up a glass bottle and hearing the muffled honk echo through it. Simple things like that really make such a difference to the atmosphere of a game.
Now, as someone who actively runs away from geese, I’ve never stopped to see how they move. If this goose is anything to go by, they have the cutest little waddle in the poultry kingdom. However, I am so glad that I’m not a goose, because they control like a 16-wheeler stuck in treacle! On the PC version I had to remap some of the buttons as it wasn’t set up the way I usually play games (where my WASD players at?). Immediately after I mapped the controls there appeared to be a problem, the goose wouldn’t turn quick enough. The number of times I stole something from an unsuspecting villager to then run beak first into a wall became frustrating. Also, the process of picking up things with my beak became a little annoying. If there were too many things on the floor, the goose would always pick up the wrong item. It ended up costing me precious seconds which meant I had to start my dastardly plan all over again.
Luckily, because of this game’s charming demeanour and lack of consequences (at no point can you “lose the game”), I was allowed to try over again without becoming too frustrated. There is an element of trial and error as each to-do list item has many ways of going about it. You can go in beak first, honking away at everything you see, or you can stealthily sneak up behind villagers, stealing things before they even know it has gone. There were many times when I would just go in, wings flapping, beak honking, and cause absolute chaos; and at no point were there any major consequences for it.
This goose has changed my view on geese for the future. Granted, they’re still honking machines of poultry destruction, but I now know not to take it personally. They are assholes to everyone in equal measure. Each minute of this game is a joy to play, even with the frustrating controls. From getting a gardener to wear a different hat; to literal destruction of property, every single mission was different and so much fun to play.