“The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year.” – Voltaire
Developer: House House
Released: 20th September 2019
Price: £15.99 (PC/Mac) £17.99 (Switch)
Untitled Goose Game is a ‘slapstick-stealth-sandbox’ in which the player adopts the role of a mischievous goose causing havoc in a quaint little village. The game’s concept originally started as a bit of a laugh; according to a developer interview with Nintendo Life, it began when one of the team “posted a stock image of a goose to Slack and said we should make a game about it. This was a joke, but we riffed on how funny geese are for a while, and a few months later circled back around to the idea to take it seriously”.
The premise is fairly simple, with the overall aim being to annoy as many of the village’s residents as possible. This is implemented with a variety of mechanics, such as puzzles, stealth and sometimes just speed! Despite the rogueish nature of the goose, the game maintains a lighthearted feel and is a delightful example of modern slapstick humour.
Untitled Goose Game consists of five sections, each with its own to-do list of specifically silly pranks to undertake. Most tasks primarily involve puzzle-solving and/or stealth but there are other ways to cause chaos by utilising the environment and the designated HONK button! The game’s main content does have a relatively short playtime of around 3-5 hours, however, the game also has a sandbox aspect to it and the possibilities for mischief-making are much more vast than the lists imply.
Unfortunately, the controls, (on PC at least), are primarily mouse-based with the addition of a few keyboard buttons (space, Ctrl, X) and cannot be changed from the in-game menu. This felt somewhat unorthodox and unintuitive, especially in terms of movement and added an unnecessary element of awkwardness to the experience.
According to the game’s developers, “a major influence for the game was children’s TV programming from the UK“, and they go on to reference titles such as Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank Engine and Brum. This inspiration is evident in the minimalist, flat-colour, cartoon art style of Untitled Goose Game which gives it a really cute, family-friendly aesthetic. Despite the simplistic design of the characters, they each have a lot of character and their quirks and frustrations shine through making the various pranks all the more satisfying.
In a similar way to the game’s aesthetics, it’s music and sound effects are incredibly jolly and twee for the most part, yet still manages to build some slapstick-esque tension during the troublemaking Goose’s more mischievous escapades!
Overall, Untitled Goose Game is a fun, silly and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Its kooky gameplay brings something new to the puzzle and stealth genres and the feel-good nature of the game is pleasantly refreshing. The tasks were silly but sometimes quite challenging, with some puzzles needing some real thought and stealth elements that require a goose to have some genuine finesse, ensuring that the experience is a satisfying one.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the overarching premise and the gameplay itself, there were elements that felt a little unpolished, such as the UI and limited control options. Additionally, for players not interested in expanding the game with sandbox play, it is a fairly short experience so while I do recommend the game, I do so with the provisos that you know what to expect in terms of playtime and maybe even suggest waiting until it is on sale if unsure as personally, I think the price tag is just a bit too steep.