Some of the funniest things come from completely nonsensical discussions. I distinctly remember one time my friend Nic and I were walking back to the dorm rooms in college and spotted a dog in a raincoat and promptly started making up lyrics about this dog to the tune of “Let’s Go” by the Ramones. Maybe it wasn’t funny to the people we passed by on the sidewalk, but to us at the time it was hilarious.
It makes me happy to know that other people, such as the team at House House, come up with hilariously absurd ideas simply from banter – such as making a game where you play as a particularly “cross” goose. Untitled Goose Game (which has to be one of the greatest titles ever) is the result of a team joking about making a game about a goose and the internet absolutely losing their minds over the joke and wanting to actually play it.
When the plan works out well, it usually ends in disaster for the human…
In Untitled Goose Game, you play as an unnamed goose who has a knack for absolutely ruining people’s days. At the start, you leave your home and your collection of knick-knacks on a quest for more chaos. After crossing a small pond, you stumble into a humble gardener’s yard who wants nothing else but to care for his crops. Being the nuisance that you are, this simply cannot happen. With a checklist in hand of specific things to do to this poor innocent gardener, chaos is a symphony and your little honking beak is the instrument of its delivery. But why stop there – why not make sure everyone in town gets in on the fun?
At its heart, Goose Game really is a stealth game, as you have to hide from the humans and memorize their patterns to learn your opportune moments to strike. The tasks are usually quite simple, from “make the man spit out his tea” or “make the boy put on the wrong glasses” to the sinister “make the gardener hammer his thumb” or “lock the store owner in the garage.” While the tasks are spelled out, how to complete them is completely up to you. For example, you could steal a carrot from the gardener and have him chase you into the pond to get him wet – or you could be craftier and set a trap that places him by the sprinkler and turn on the water from the other side of the fence.
Some of the best moments of the game are ones that force you to experiment and try to get a chain reaction. At first, some of the simply named tasks seem easy, but they really require some forward thinking to successfully pull off. When the plan works out well, it usually ends in disaster for the human, which is just hysterical to watch unfold. Some of these tasks were pretty hard to pull off – but to me, the difficulty curve was just right, with no solutions being “nonsensical” and most becoming apparent after a bit of observing.
…I never felt like I was fighting against the controls…
Looking at a goose, you would think that they would be a nightmare to control, with their wack waddle and all. House House did a great job with the controls and feel of the goose though, finding a good balance between wonky and responsive. By keeping the controls simple and having only a few buttons to worry about (one of which is a honk button), playing as the creature is awkward but not frustrating, and it really is just fun to move around.
Grabbing vegetables, untying shoelaces, pressing buttons, and closing doors on people are easy things to do, and I never felt like I was fighting against the controls to interact with my desired object. I did encounter a couple instances of annoyance, mainly when humans would “shoo” me out of a location, as it felt like I was pushing against a magnet – but these were far from normal occurrences. Overall, the game really captures the essence of moving like a goose (which is definitely not something I ever thought I’d write out in my life).
…the game is elevated to new heights by the amazing dynamic music.
The real stars of the show for me though were the visual and sound design. The bright, vibrant, simple visuals are a joy to look at and feel like they are straight out of a quality cartoon! I loved the different environments and locales that you can explore, and I made sure to investigate every nook and cranny to see the amount of detail put into the world. I always am a sucker for a unique art style, and this is one that is amazingly simple and will forever pass the test of time.
More impressive than the visual style was the sound design. The team at House House made a genius decision to have a plunky, scattered, ragtime piano piece be the only instrument playing. The best part of it all is it only plays when you are running, being chased, or causing chaos. It made the whole thing feel like I had a pianist watching me and doing improvisation on top of my movement, with the music plodding along to the same rhythm that I was wobbling. The whole tone of the game is elevated to new heights by this amazing dynamic music, and I hope to see other games in the future learn from the masterclass presented here!
My biggest gripe with Untitled Goose Game, is that it really is on the short side of life at just over two hours. There are four distinct levels, each talking just over a half hour to complete all the tasks. While there are extra challenges to complete upon beating the game for replayability, I can’t help but be bummed out that there just wasn’t a little more. Even though a completionist run would take around three and a half hours, it is pretty hard to swallow for retail price. I feel like for the price point, there should be at least another two levels to make for a more fleshed out and lengthy experience.
Overall, Untitled Goose Game was a real hoot front to back. The puzzles presented are great, the scenarios caused are hilarious, the visuals are charming, and the sound design is some of the best I have ever heard. I only wish that I had more time and more scenarios to unleash my annoyance upon. To some people, this short length could be exactly what they are looking for, but to me I just really wished there was just a little bit more for the cost of admission. But, despite that, the fact that this game even exists makes me so happy, and I really wish that other games will come out, birthed by bizzare ideas, like playing as a foul fowl.
Yes, if you:
- Have ever wanted to play as a goose
- Enjoy games about causing chaos
- Are looking for creative art and sound design
- Want a short game that you can beat in one sitting
No, if you:
- Need to get anything remotely close to a dollar per hour of game
Untitled Goose Game released on September 20th on the PC (via the Epic Game Store) and Nintendo Switch (reviewed).
Note: Cannonicity received a copy of Untitled Goose Game in exchange for a fair and honest review.