I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Untitled Goose Game lately. It’s a very good game, thanks to being entirely an agent of chaos unbridled by the rules of humankind. Your morality is not their morality. You are an animal whose only instincts are ‘honk’ and ‘mischief’. So, what other games will give you this same sort of feeling? What other games put you in the fur/scales/feathers/whatever of an animal? And, I mean, a real animal, not an anthropomorphised Sonic style animal.
I’ve got a few suggestions to scratch your goose-based itches.
Originally released for PSN in 2012, Tokyo Jungle puts you in the distant year of 2027. Humans have completely disappeared, without warning, leaving the animals to fend for themselves. The first animal players are given is the humble pomeranian, deciding to venture out into the harsh streets of Tokyo after running out of food. The game is 2.5D, with 3D characters and backgrounds, rendered as a 2D platformer with roguelike elements. Taking control of their animal, players must guide them to find food, fight off rivals, predators, and prey, and establish a pack of their own through which players will continue playing through the family line of their chosen animal.
There’s not a lot more to it than that, though there is a story mode which will go through why the humans have disappeared, and give certain animals a little more back story as to why they’re wandering Tokyo’s hostile streets, like the Sika deer fawns trying to find their mother or a lioness and her hunting party having to utterly decimate the local boss kangaroo and his pack of rabbits.
It’s that kind of game. It’s weird, but it’s also tense, heartwarming, and an utter joy to play as the wide variety of animals on offer, from the smallest bunnies through to dinosaurs, herbivores, carnivores, all with different goals and styles of play.
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco the Dolphin was one of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive’s killer apps on its launch in 1992. Where Sonic the Hedgehog offered an unrealistic look at hedgehogs and their speeds as well as relation to egg-based men, Ecco instead decided to take a more realistic look at the lives of dolphins in the water, swimming around, doing cool tricks and accidentally bearing witness to all marine life, bar himself, being sucked up, leading you to Atlantis and also time travel and aliens.
It’s just normal dolphin things!
Though it is slightly more realistic than Sonic in terms of how it controls, with the game taking place underwater and Ecco being a normal dolphin. Attacks are done by high-speed ramming, swimming through the ocean feels natural and fluid (and you can do tricks!), and echolocation is also a key mechanic, allowing Ecco to interact with other sea creatures as well as map out his current area.
You are a kind of beagle thing named Jake. Your dog crush/girlfriend/I don’t know gets taken away by dog-catchers and, of course, Jake is determined to rescue her.
This game is weird, dude. This game has a dedicated poop button, as well as two dedicated pee buttons (allowing players to pee either left or right). Though the pee button is more integrated into gameplay, with certain mini-game events requiring you to mark territory. The poop button serves no real function other than ‘haha funny dog do a poo’. Which is, basically, the majority of this games ‘ humour’ which seems to grow progressively unhinged as you continue through the various areas, doing dog things, digging and, inevitably, murder.
Spoilers, but as a dog, you go through a dog food factory and straight-up murder the lead of a cat food company by putting her through a cat food mincing machine.
It’s for kids!
Alright, I’m cheating a little here, but come on. There’s technically no humans and I guess you technically play as yourself, feeding the cats and whatnot, but there’s nothing to indicate that you are not a larger benevolent cat offering treats and toys to all your good cat friends. The house could be yours. You could have broken in and figured out how to put out treats for the other cats.
Either way, there are a lot of cats in this game. They don’t do much other than sit and look cute. The player puts out different kinds of foods, toys and accessories in the hopes of seeing rare cats and documenting them. That’s all there is to it. It’s an idle game, so it’s the sort of thing you set up, leave alone for a few hours and maybe check on during your lunch break.
Of course, if that wasn’t enough for you, Neko Atsume VR is on PS4 and follows the same premise, but puts you right in the middle of looking at the cats (which now move around more and do things).
Speaking of cats, you know what cats are really good at? Besides being the clearly superior companion animal? Absolutely wrecking shit. Just being total bastards.
Catlateral Damage allows you to do just that, with three modes dedicated to knocking shit onto the floor, including a 2-minute score attack, a sort of ‘scavenger hunt’ where players need to knock the correct items off various tables/shelves/etc., and a free roam mode where you can just be a cat in your own time.
The levels include various locations such as a standard home, a supermarket and even a kind of Witch’s home full of potions and ingredients and things that are probably used to summon all kinds of nasty demons but, as far as you’re concerned, belong on the floor. Because you are a bastard cat who cares not for rules and human morality/interior decorating.