Now, where do I start with the rather aptly named ‘Untitled Goose Game‘ from developer House House? I’m not a fan of geese and my distaste for them largely stems from my University days where I had to walk to my campus past a lake full of the vicious beasts. Don’t be fooled thinking they are calm and collected like swans. Oh and never stray too close to them, especially when they have their little goslings with them, or you can expect to feel their wrath.
My experience of making any eye contact with geese goes a little something like this: honk… *Goose gives you the evil eye*… Honk!… *Goose gives you a final warning to not step an inch closer*… HONK HONK HONK HONK!!!!!!!!… *Goose charges at you followed by an onslaught of attacks towards your shins and private parts!* If you’re ever accosted by a group of geese, all I can say is that you better have good life insurance!
I’m truly thankful that Untitled Goose Game has you play as the mischievous bastard goose which can unleash all its hostility on others, rather than having you as the helpless victim while the goose haunts your nightmares. The concept of Untitled Goose Game is an incredibly simple one. Not only is it the one and only goose simulator around, but it also acts as a very entertaining puzzle game leaning heavily on stealth elements. Quite simply, you are provided with a checklist of tasks to complete, and in doing so, a new section of the village opens up to be explored, allowing you to unleash further mischievousness on the residents of this quaint rural village.
The tasks in Untitled Goose Game often have you stealing various items from the villagers. If spotted, the villager will react realistically and will give chase, often catching up to you and snatching the item back before returning to their normal daily routine once again. Being the resilient and vile creature that you are, you don’t ever give up. That carrot the gardener just took off you is yours and yours alone! Sometimes you have to get creative to avoid detection and this is where Untitled Goose Game is at its strongest. There is a great deal of variety to achieve your goals. Some objectives are very basic, you can acquire the item pretty easily through stealthy tactics while the villager is doing their task, or instead, you can distract them by moving another one of their prized possession before return to the one you want once they are investigating what you’ve just done.
Other tasks require more thought but are never too difficult to be able to succeed. A good example is when you have to get into the grounds of a pub. At the gate is the burly landlord who will shoo you away if you try and enter. Not far from the entrance is a van with a delivery box and of course, a pub worker strolls along to collect the box to take into the pub. It’s time to get your ‘Solid Snake’ on and become Solid Goose and enter that box. You have to be mindful not to move whilst in the box or you will startle the worker who will drop it, giving away your cunning plan.
Each of the areas of the village that you explore also features a task where you have to collect a number of objects to place in a certain location. Generally, this is quite an easy requirement but you want to make sure that the villager does not follow you to this location, otherwise, you’ll find that the items you have collected will be taken away from you forcing you to hunt for them again. I found the mix of tasks to be really enjoyable and there is often a lot of humour involved. You seriously can never get tired of chasing a young child around, wildly honking at him!
If you ever do get a little stuck on a task, a good tell to overcome it is to see what thought bubbles are over the heads of the villagers. It can help offer some clues without giving too much away. Though I usually play practically all Nintendo Switch games in handheld mode, Untitled Goose Game is an ideal game to put up on the big screen to have the whole family interacting together to solve the puzzles and join in with the hysterics. My wife is not a gamer at all, yet was so charmed by the goose’s devilish antics that she actually wanted to play through the whole game with me, which is an absolute first. I wish my daughter was old enough to play games as I’m positive it would be a hit with her too. House House has created something special here that will no doubt be the talk of many family households.
Entertaining tasks aside, Untitled Goose Game wouldn’t be half as endearing if it wasn’t full of how impressively the game depicts the waddle and infuriating honk of a goose. The way you can flap your wings to cause greater intimidation, and have to cradle your neck to reach objects on the floor, just adds to the immersion that you are indeed the most realistic goose in all of gaming history. This is of course complemented by the game having all the items you interact with have a simple yet realistic physics engine and such a simple and effective art style that is incredibly bold and colourful. I absolutely love the use of a soft colour palette too, which makes the idyllic village setting so attractive.
The different areas of the village all link together with each of the locations set out as it’s own self-contained sandbox environment. These areas are quite distinct from one another, however, there are only 5 locations in total which range from the back gardens of a couple of villagers to a delightful model village. Each environment only has around 6 tasks to complete, of which the final area only has one final task, so in turn, it does make Untitled Goose Game a short but very sweet experience. I got to the end of the game easily within 3 hours of playtime and in doing so you thankfully do unlock a couple more pages of tasks to complete. These include having to complete some goals across multiple locations, and speaking of goals, one of them is to literally dribble a football from the High Street into a football goal.
These bonus tasks only add another hour or so to the experience, however, there is also a time attack mode for each location that unlocks too. This is where you have to complete each task for the area within 6 minutes before the church bell rings. Time attack modes tend not to interest me much but I’m sure it will please speedrunners to have this included within the game. Even with the additional material, I was left desperately wanting more. It’s a testament to just how much joy I was having causing chaos as this goose that I didn’t want the game to end. There isn’t a built-in achievement system either, which could have potentially helped to extend the game further.
I guess the shortness of Untitled Goose Game is somewhat of a negative but it doesn’t hinder the experience at all, as it is an incredibly well designed and fulfilling game. I seem to be sounding like a broken record lately but the Nintendo Switch pricing for the game is a little steep considering the length of it, as it is priced at £17.99. This seems to be quite common lately, most indie titles on the Switch are a tad overpriced. I’m not saying that the game lacks quality and doesn’t deserve to be this price, but when looking at titles with a similar length and quality on the system, and other consoles, I feel the price is £5 more than it should be. I still absolutely recommend purchasing the game but you have been warned not to expect a 6-8 hour experience.
Untitled Goose Game provides a honking good time. The idea of playing as a horrible goose is genius and unlike anything I have ever played before. It’s a family-friendly game packed with plenty of laughs and puzzles. The game, however, only justifies my initial feelings – geese are pure evil and should be avoided at all costs!
For those out there who don’t own a Nintendo Switch or a PC, yet you really want to pick up the game. It appears Untitled Goose Game is coming to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Mobiles in the future – honking amazing!