After what feels like an eternity of waiting, Melbourne studio House House’s Untitled Goose Game is finally out and is letting us all be a very naughty goose in an otherwise peaceful village. You are here to ruin some days on a very organised checklist, and also, you are here to honk and flap. Like rip and tear, but for geese.
The game begins with a super simple little tutorial on movement, telling you the basics of honking, running, bending down, flapping, just general goose things. There aren’t too many controls, but you don’t need a lot of controls because you are a goose and all you need to know how to do is be a goose. Which is, to say, be absolutely terrible and terrifying to everyone in your path. As you make your way down the river, a checklist is presented to you. There’s no story, exactly, just various things you have to do in order to achieve your goosey plans for total goose domination.
For example, the first persons day you ruin is a nice groundkeeper’s whole deal. Your first obstacle is to get into his garden, and thus the game presents its first real challenge as well as its design philosophy of having a few ways to do things. You can turn on the sprinkler, grab his radio, mess some things up, anything that will get his attention. And once you’re inside his garden you can unleash your special brand of honky hell.
Then, the checklist continues. Stealing things from the garden. Getting the groundskeeper all kinds of wet. Making him wear a different hat. Stealing some more things to make a picnic. It’s fun using a combination of stealth and strategy to accomplish the tasks, but they do start to feel a little standard ‘point and click’ at times, in that there’s clear solutions to things and you need to do things in a certain order, even if a couple of things can be switched around here and there.
Once you ruin the groundskeepers day enough, the level opens to the next area and some more peoples lives you can completely and utterly ruin. The game continues this way, going through various areas to ruin various days and be a very nasty goose, and while things do still feel a little ‘point and click’ at times, the ramping up of the strategy and figuring out just how exactly you’re supposed to achieve a goal keeps the game interesting.
It also spices things up when you get into scenarios with more than one person, in that achieving certain tasks will require making characters interact and setting off chains of events that will inevitably lead to your supreme victory.
The real fun comes in with the hidden side challenges. Extra things to do that can be discovered by playing around and finding out how to do them. Thinking to yourself ‘what would happen if I tried to do this?’ and then being rewarded for it is a great feeling, and shows the game is thinking of how to be a horrible goose in a lot of ways, and wants the player to be just as creative.
Honk honk honk!!!!
All in all it’s a relatively short game. It’s a good few hours, although that can be stretched out depending on just how in depth you want to go with it. It’s also, interestingly, unique for a stealth game in that it requires players drawing attention to themselves in the right circumstances before going back to being sneaky and terrible.
What’s more, the gorgeous graphics and dynamic soundtrack make for a really interesting combination that’s mostly utterly delightful, seeing how the music changes as I’m being shooed off, or just as I’m plotting my next diabolical action, it’s awesome to watch and listen to. Especially when it all comes together.
They say video games don’t cause violence but you know what? After a few hours of this I absolutely want to go out and bother some villagers. Cause some mischief.
Untitled Goose Game is out now on the Epic store and Nintendo Switch.