(UNTITLED GOOSE GAME is out now for every platform. Distributor provided review copy.)
You are a goose. A terrible goose out to cause some trouble. What’s worse is that now, with the big co-op update, you can be a terrible goose with a friend. At the start of the game you appear from the shrubbery like the malicious entity that you are. A quick swim across the lake brings you to a sleepy little village where you can inflict chaos upon all. These include a poor farmer, a child, many shopkeepers and dozens of others. You will steal their keys, radios, food, and livelihoods. They will flee before you up and down main street.
It’s a game that’s made up of one joke, and one joke alone, but thanks to gorgeous animation and clever mission design, that joke is enough to keep the giggles going for quite a few hours. Especially with a friend.
UNTITLED GOOSE GAME strikes a delicate tonal balance that is rarely achieved in comedy games. If you controlled a human character the game would feel mean-spirited and spiteful. There wouldn’t be any joy in playing a colossal jerk like this. But play a big fat goose waddling with a butt that moves like a lava lamp, and the entire experience is turned upside down. Suddenly stealing the glasses from a kid with bad eyesight is not just funny, but essential to do as soon as possible.
I don’t know if that says something about me living vicariously through a waterfowl, but at this point it’s hard to care. UNTITLED GOOSE GAME is like GRAND THEFT AUTO: WATERSHIP DOWN and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a comedy game like this.
But look beyond the immediate mayhem and the big picture reveals a surprisingly smart and efficiently designed puzzle game inside it. Each area has a checklist of things to accomplish. The methods of how you accomplish them are entirely up to you. Want to grab the keys from the farmer? You better distract him somehow. You can hide in the bushes and surprise your victims with a well placed honk, or you can sneak around on your tippy toes until you’re within pecking distance.
Play with a friend and one can draw aggro from the unsuspecting human while the other robs him blind. Naturally the inclusion of a friend makes some missions rather easy, but they’re never not inventive or fun nonetheless. There’s constantly a sense of progression, even if it’s goose stepping into total anarchy.
It’s all very silly and works best in short bursts rather than an extended playing session. The game is very easy to pick up and learn, and the intuitive controls work even when things get hectic. There’s something dementedly entertaining in running away from angry villagers with their stolen stuff, honking like a lunatic.
The wonderful soundtrack tracks your movements and the action on screen, adjusting itself to whatever chaos you create. The entire game is elevated thanks to your sneaking being timed perfectly with a co-conspiratorial piano. Fans of old LOONEY TUNES cartoons and vaudevillian slapstick will appreciate the delicately fine tuned precision that has been put into the soundtrack.
UNTITLED GOOSE GAME is one of those nearly perfect little games that does everything right. It works for all ages and has just enough content to entertain you before the mayhem begins to feel stale. The “story” takes about three hours to complete, but there’s plenty of enjoyment in finding new ways to torment the villagers further. Co-op brings a few more extra hours into the game, mainly because you’ll want to play all the puzzles once more just to see how better to annoy the poor villagers.
While a unique take on the genre, it’s not exactly a reinvention, and it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you just need to honk out a bit.