Geese can be obnoxious creatures. Sure, when you’re a kid you likely went to a petting zoo and saw some geese and thought they were cute. Perhaps you had a pond in your hometown and saw them floating around all day, chilling. But the humble Goose can be a menace to society and that fact has been beautifully captured in Untitled Goose Game for Nintendo Switch and PC.
In Untitled Goose Game you play the humble Goose out to cause havoc and chaos in the quaint and peaceful surroundings of an English village. You progress through the game by solving puzzles and generally being a pain in the beak to everyone around you. The developer House House understands the psyche of the Goose, wanting to steal and terrorise the people surrounding it and they have executed this simple goose mechanic so beautifully and simply.
At the heart of the game is a pure comedic concept – What would it be like to play as a goose and cause trouble? A whole lot of fun is the answer and that simple mischevious joke is weaved throughout this short but satisfying game. The game appeared at indie showcases earlier in 2019 (I remember playing a demo at EGX Rezzed in London earlier this year) and since then the game’s reputation has grown much like a Goose standing there flapping its wings.
Part of the charm of Untitled Goose Game is the realisation of the main protagonist, the Goose. The way the Goose walks, waddles, flaps it’s wings and honks is hilarious in its own right. The animation is detailed and true to real life and the surrounding world is detailed and full of puzzles, people and items for the Goose to interact with. There’s something so satisfying waddling around and causing mischief. Steal someone’s food, surprise some folks eating their lunch or sneak up on an unsuspecting shop keeper and honk behind them to startle them – it’s all fantastic fun.
The Goose is a mean Goose that’s for sure, but therein lies the fun. Pull a chair away from a man about to sit down so he falls on the floor, trap a small boy in a phone booth and put a lady’s washing in a fountain with some soap to do the washing. It’s genuinely laugh out loud stuff.
The gameplay mechanics in the game is somewhere between puzzle and stealth mechanics. It reminded me of the old point and click adventure games where you have an objective and have to interact with items and characters to make your way to the next. There’s also more than hints of Hitman in here where you have to use your stealth and distraction tactics to steal something or get past someone.
Untitled Goose Game isn’t a long game, you could probably play it in one sitting coming in at approx 3 hours in total (although someone has already done a 4 min speedrun). There are a collection of small areas and in each area, you have to solve a number of objectives to get through to the next. Interestingly enough the Goose has a checklist, how the goose ticks these items off is unknown, but it provides structure to the simply game that’s otherwise an extended series of slapstick gags. In this way Untitled Goose Game doesn’t outstay its welcome – it’s small, short and perfectly formed.
The world is created with love and care by Australian Developers House House. The game looks to be set in a typical English village and the art style and animation fit perfectly within this world. The expressive animations of the Goose are hilarious as well as perfectly describing the anguish, frustration and confusion of the villagers. The calming soundtrack perfectly accompanies the quaint, pretty environment and offsets the carnage the Goose brings.
The puzzles in Untitled Goose Game are clever and inventive and not too difficult stopping you in your tracks. There may be moments where you get stuck, but here you have to summon your inner Goose and simply ask “What would the Goose do?”. Each puzzle and checklist item offers laughs and satisfaction making the Untitled Goose Game well worth picking up.
There’s some laugh out loud moments in here for sure like when you make the man spit out his tea by ringing a bell behind him, or making a small boy buy back his own stuff from a market when you steal his aeroplane. One of the most clever puzzles is where you drop a bucket on a burly man’s head towards the end of the game. Not all the puzzles are clever, each of the four areas has a fetch quest style puzzle where you have to gather a number of items trying to avoid the people in your surroundings. These were the only moments where the game dragged, but they passed quickly. The pay off at the end of the game is truly hilarious and makes it well worth sticking with.
In summary, Untitled Goose Game is funny, satisfying and a different take on the puzzle/stealth genre. It’s a simple joke, you’re a goose honking your way around a village causing trouble, and the joke doesn’t get old or annoying. If anything it gets funnier as the game goes on. As the game is short, it can be easily picked up and played in a single sitting or across a couple of sessions. It’s a charming game and one that stands out from the crowd in 2019.