If there’s one animal in all the land that David Attenborough has never given enough time to, it is the goose. Gits by nature, geese are known to start fights, smoke 40 a day and slide into your partner’s DMs. Either that, or I’ve just had a bad dream. That aside, I admit I have wondered what life would be like for a goose, the master criminal of the animal kingdom.
That’s where developers House House come in with Untitled Goose Game: a stealth-based game where you play as a goose and generally go about harassing a village of folk, just because. It’s a delightfully absurd premise that, while short, delivers many memorable moments of laughter along with moderately challenging tasks to complete. A silly goose, a horrible goose, Untitled Goose Game delivers a honking good time.
Untitled Goose Game has been a long time coming after its first official trailer dropped last year and it was delayed from early 2019. Now you can at last make good on that original trailer’s promise: it’s a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose. As a goose, and an utter bastard one at that, your job is to waddle from location to location within a quintessentially sleepy British village, bothering the townspeople and giving them a shared trauma to discuss with their therapists for years to come.
You are presented with a literal to-do list of tasks before you unlock the next area of the world. This can range from stealing items of food and putting them on a blanket, making an old man fall on his backside, and sneaking into a pub – all very British pastimes, I can assure you.
Despite all of this goose-shaped menacing, the game itself is a very relaxed affair, mixing stealth and sandbox elements to offer largely free reign of how you go about crossing off your objectives. In one location outside a humble hop store, your task is to basically terrorise a boy until he locks himself in a phonebox. I must admit there was a grim satisfaction and a gentle massaging of the darkest side of my psyche as I spread my wings and honked at this child, forcing him back into his red prison. As if that boy’s woes weren’t enough, another task required me to make the boy wear the wrong glasses. This time, I confronted the boy and honked into his soul until he was so spooked he fell into a puddle, his spectacles flying off. I quickly stole his prescribed lenses, swapped them for another pair I had already stolen from the store and watched as he fumbled to replace his goose-nabbed glasses, confused, no doubt changed for life.
Every item on the to-do list of the goose is a fun challenge. Untitled Goose Game will never spell out how to tick them off, though, as the real fun is experimenting with the goose the many ways to approach things. Most of the time, it will be a case of biding your time, taking note of patterns in the movement of your human prey and acting accordingly. Sometimes, you need to wait until the target is in the middle of an action before executing a well-timed honk, causing them to drop/break something or injure themselves. You can also honk to distract people, or turn on a hose or unplug a radio, but, ultimately, patience and good timing are two keys two mastering the art of the goose.
When most of your objectives are complete, you’ll be presented with one more in that area, which will give you access to the next area of the village once completed. For example, making the groundskeeper bang his thumb with a hammer will subsequently cause him to faint, falling through the garden door and letting you move forward.
Controlling your goose to complete the list is thankfully very simple indeed. You move with the analogue stick, hold B to run and press Y to honk. Pressing A will interact with highlighted objects, with ZL lowering your neck (for those grounded items) and ZR spreading your mighty wings. Interestingly, if you lower your neck, spread your wings and hold the B button, you can essentially make the goose ‘Naruto run’. Hopefully Untitled Goose Game has some form of Area 51 DLC in the future. My only gripe is that you can lose a bit of control when running around, but it’s a minor one that can easily be looked over.
The items you interact with can be carried or dragged, depending on the size and/or weight with relative ease, but you’ll need to watch out for townspeople in the area. If the object you are thieving belongs to them, a speech bubble with a picture of that item will appear above them.
On that note, the game is mostly non-vocal, aside from your honks. The people who populate the nameless town are faceless and simple in their designs. Any emotion they convey is expressed through body movements, as well as a piano score that punctuates moments when you are being pursued or otherwise annoying a human. It’s a restrained use of music that really helps to highlight the faster paced moments in the game.
Forgivingly, there is no consequence to getting anything wrong in Untitled Goose Game. You can’t be hurt, just shooed away, and you can’t fail objectives. If you go to move an object but drop it, or a villager takes it back from you, they’ll simply put it back to it original position, ready for you to goose it up all other again.
The main complaint, though, is that the game is incredibly short. You can easily complete the main game in roughly two hours, which is a real shame considering just how much fun you have being a complete jerk. By the end of my time with Untitled Goose Game, it still felt as if there should be so much more of the world to explore and many villagers left to give heart problems. Thankfully, after the main game is finished, you can hop right back into the world with more lists and challenges to cross off. I sincerely hope that House House gives us more Untitled Goose content sooner rather than later, though.
Untitled Goose Game has been a long time coming, but the wait has absolutely paid off. You can finally satisfy your goose needs and waddle and honk to your heart’s content, without any repercussions. It’s a wonderful, charming and absurd journey with gorgeous visuals while being full of comedy and laughs. The objectives are incredibly fun, presenting a slight challenge but never feeling impossible. Sure, it’s a shame it ends far too soon, but the extra post-game challenges offer further play time which, in this goose’s line of work, is only a good thing.
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Untitled Goose Game is simply a damned delight to play. Although short, it is a hoot from start to finish and easily one of the most fun games you will play this year. You’ll definitely want to give this a goosey gander.
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