I think we can all agree that Untitled Goose Game has taken the video game public and media by storm. All of sudden House House went from an obscure indie team that made Push Me Pull You to a studio that’s released one of this years biggest highlights. After queuing a crazy amount of time at EGX last year I had a go at the demo and found it to be fantastic (check out that experience here) I’ve been waiting for Untitled Goose Game since it was first announced and finally it’s here! Is it the refreshingly creative idea that we’ve all been waiting for or should we all be honking mad?
There is a need to temper expectations going into Untitled Goose Game. Its setup from the very start is a more relaxed and slower paced experience than you’d expect. The gameplay is a mixture of solving stealthy fetch quest puzzles via a to-do list of roughly described objectives in each area. You’ll be picking up items or interacting with objects to get a reaction from residents of a quiet little British village that feels 90s in its quaintness and use of CRTs. The controls are simple enough and there is a nice slow start to Untitled Goose Game that allows you to get to grips with them. The option to switch the cursive writing that appears throughout the to-do lists for a basic aerial looking font is a nice accessibility consideration as well.
It’s not just the pacing that you need to adjust to in Untitled Goose Game. The controls can feel a little slippery and a few puzzles are just a little obtuse. You will likely find yourself occasionally bouncing off villagers and occasionally caught on various bits of surrounding landscape when in a hurry. Once you figure out how everything works the controls feel how you’d expect being a goose would feel, it all just flows really nicely. Untitled Goose Game is pretty short as well. Once you’ve gone through the various areas and seen the credits, you can return to find an extended to-do list and timed challenges but that’s your lot. That being said, what content is present feels like the perfect amount of gameplay and this is the most important aspect of Untitled Goose Game. What it does well it does so very well. All of the previous little niggles melt away into a big fluffy cloud of enjoyment and there’s a distinct evil pleasure in meddling with the villagers lives.
From start to finish Untitled Goose Game is exactly what it appears to be, devilishly sweet and superb fun. The calmed colour palette helps the models and world all fit together nicely. Text is easy to read and the to-do list of objectives/puzzles in each area is relatively straightforward enough to understand from the go. A dedicated honk button on the controller not only allows you freedom to create amazingly brilliant moments of humor but also works as an alert causing all nearby villagers to look your way. Once you tie this mechanic in with clever implementation of items in the world that work as you expect them to, you’ll be tricking the villagers into positions and stealing their goods in no time.
You pick up a bottle and honk, the sound reverberates as it should. You pick up a harmonica and the honk becomes a noted noise. One of Untitled Goose Game’s best strengths is how you can interact with the world in ways you just don’t get to enjoy in video games very often. I’d go into more detail with this but it risks spoiling some of the games best moments (It’s also why I’ve used screenshots and clips that are fairly basic, to avoid spoilers) Solving puzzles by trying something and seeing how it works out is how you’ll find yourself approaching most situations. The buttons for zooming in and out while doing any task allow you to see everything occurring around you and more than a few times it resulted in new ideas to torment the residents as they went about their quiet day. The best thing to do is simply try it, chances are high that the game lets you do it.
Music in Untitled Goose Game is superbly simple and fantastic. There is only piano played for music and it’s entirely contextual. When you’re walking around there will be background noises, mutterings from people, sounds of their daily life and plenty of your own honking. When you’re being chased or someone is nearby the piano player starts and you get these fantastic little dittys that convey exactly how much trouble you’re in at any given time. Getting caught typically results in a fantastic little animation where the goose won’t let go an item and that’s it. The only result of failing is dropping an item and having to nab it back to run off all over again. This creates a brilliant world of mischief.
I’d love to tell you Untitled Goose Game is perfect but unfortunately it’s not. The slippery controls when you’re in a hurry can be an issue and you can find little occasional niggles from time to time but the more I play of Untitled Goose Game the more I’m reminded of Donut County. How a smaller, polished and unique experience can bring about the best moments in video games. Where Untitled Goose Game differs is the sheer freedom to cause as much mischief as you can think of. The story maybe limited and the interactions with the townsfolk very simple but I would challenge anyone not to laugh at least once while playing. Even going back for a few minutes to get some footage reminded me of how much fun it was to lead people on a merry goose chase. Discovering intricate little details despite having played it solidly for days. What more could you want in a goose game?
9/10 – A honking good time
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