Published on October 16th, 2019 | by Hugh Mitchell
Untitled Goose Game Review
Summary: Untitled Goose Game is the hilariously delightful stealth goose simulator that you didn't know you needed, until now
If you haven’t seen the release trailer for Untitled Goose Game yet, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s one of the most effective trailers I’ve seen in all my years following the games industry. The trailer expertly communicates the game’s story, gameplay and design philosophy in under two minutes. It shows that Untitled Goose Game is all about unleashing pure, unbridled mischief on the denizens of a sleepy country town, from the perspective of a pesky goose. Yet most impressive of all, the actual game is somehow more delightful than it looks in the trailer.
If we take a step back and put on our critical game analysis hat, Untitled Goose Game is a puzzle game at its core, with some light stealth elements. You take direct control of a goose, with a list of specific tasks to perform within a certain area. The first of these areas is a farmer’s yard that backs onto a pond, and one of the tasks is to drench the farmer. It’s up to you to figure out how you want to achieve this task.
One option is to lure the farmer over to a sprinkler, then activate the sprinkler when he’s within the splash zone. As the goose, you’re able to pick up items and carry them in your beak – so if a farmer discovers that his favourite thermos has been placed next to a sprinkler, he’ll go over and pick it up. But if the farmer catches you with the thermos as you waddle on over to the sprinkler, he’ll snatch it off you first. You can also activate certain items in the environment when you’re near them, such as turning on a tap that is connected to a sprinkler system. Needless to say, the visual gag of watching a cheeky goose turn on a sprinkler just to harass an innocent farmer is utterly hilarious, and this sense of gleeful mischief is Untitled Goose Game’s strongest asset.
An alternative solution to the previously mentioned puzzle is to force the farmer to wade into the pond to retrieve an item that you stole off him. Pressing the left trigger lowers the goose’s head, allowing you to pick up items that are low to the ground, such as a farmer’s hat as he bends over to toil in the garden. The goose can also sprint at the tap of a button, allowing you to quickly run towards the pond with the farmer’s hat, then dropping it in the middle for him to retrieve. Honking and flapping your wings for attention can also be performed at your discretion, which will help in directing the farmer’s attention towards the whereabouts of his stolen hat.
After completing a certain number of tasks in an area, a special task will be presented that will open the pathway for you to move onto the next area. These special tasks are usually slightly more complex than the base tasks, but aren’t likely to keep you guessing for too long. Which leads me to what is ultimately my sole critique of Untitled Goose Game: it’s pretty simple to get through once you figure out how to work within the game’s rules.
I completed Untitled Goose Game in a single, lol-filled three hour sitting, but I could count on one hand the number of challenges that took me more than a few minutes to overcome. Most of the difficulty comes in the form of figuring out specifically which item combination is required to complete a task; so a little trial and error is usually the most effective method to progression. Thankfully a whole new set of complex tasks are unlocked once you beat the game, which adds another few hours of more challenging gameplay if you feel like diving back in.
The aesthetic style of Untitled Goose Game is one of the most vital factors contributing to the game’s playful sense of humour. Untitled Goose Game utilises a gorgeously colourful, low-fi visual motif with flat, featureless textures throughout. Yet the animations and music convey an impressive amount of emotion from each of the characters. There isn’t a consistent background soundtrack accompanying the gameplay, so most of the action is silent apart from the waddling pitter-patter of the protagonist’s goose feet. However, short, sharp piano flairs are triggered whenever you perform an action or when things become tense. It’s a bold alternative to a traditional soundtrack, but it works exceptionally well to create a cohesive ‘subtle-yet-striking’ aesthetic.
Untitled Goose Game is fantastic. The absurd premise is executed to near perfection to deliver a truly unique experience that goes beyond the silly gag of watching a pesky goose cause havoc. The gorgeous, minimalist visuals and the sporadic audio cues combine to create a rich, colourful world that’s just fun to mess around with. Granted, the game is a bit of a cakewalk, but the experience is so utterly delightful and silly that you’ll be more than happy to show it off to friends or play through it all over again in a few months.