Untitled Goose Game (2019)
Developer: House House
I've been looking forward to Untitled Goose Game since I first heard of it earlier this year. If you've read more of my reviews, you know that "petty acts of destruction" fits my tastes perfectly. Even House House decided to release Untitled Goose Game on the exact same day as the game I've most been awaiting this year, Link's Awakening, I was still set on purchasing it on release day. September was a great month, new game-wise. Untitled Goose Game is an adventure game where you play a wild goose who's out to cause havoc on the whole town, crossing off petty tasks on your list.
Untitled Goose Game is a pretty amazing title, until you hear release title in Japan: "Here Comes Mischievous Goose!" which pretty much sums up what this is all about. The premise is simple: you're a goose on the loose (hehe) through the town, with a checklist of things you must do involving different townspeople. The checklist won't necessarily say "steal a carrot", but it will say to "have a picnic" involving a carrot, so you gotta go and scoop a carrot from the gardener's yard. It can be considered stealth, but the worst than can happen if you get caught is the angry human shoos you away. Tasks aren't always immediately straightforward since different types of interactions can cause the townspeople to do different things, especially if you cause them to interact with each other. Each area will have it's own checklist, and you'll be able to move on to the next once you've completed enough tasks from the current area's checklist. Then there's a "secret" checklist, which you only uncover the tasks from if you manage to do one of them without being warranted to. If you're chaotic and curious enough, you might uncover some of these secret tasks without meaning to. I only got a few of them - however, once you complete the main game story you get full access to this list and can continue with these more challenging quests.
I don't think I've ever laughed so much playing a game by myself as I did with Untitled Goose Game (although Human: Fall Flat was pretty close). I knew this game would cater to my chaotic game tendencies extremely well, but I was surprised to see this game become widely beloved by so many people - I guess a lot of people have some petty and destructive tendencies we need to unleash. I took the game pretty slow and spent a lot of time not working on actual tasks, but just messing around in other ways. The goose really does mess up people's days, and how it does it is always hilarious. You can steal a lady's bra and then drop it off in the neighbor's yard, forcing him to have to toss it back across the fence to her. I recorded too many clips and screenshots because I was sitting there laughing out loud to myself through so many moments. I also lost track of time and where I was in a way that I don't think I really have since I was a kid playing games. I played one night for what I thought was an hour, then looked up at the clock and realized it had been three hours and it was already midnight. Untitled Goose Game absolutely sucked me in and it was hard to tear away from it.
The art style in Untitled Goose Game is extremely simple and clean, but it fulfills the purpose. It's not a hyper-realistic simulator of being a goose, it's a very silly adventure game. Despite the fact that the human characters are drawn without facial expressions, they somehow manage to express so many different emotions through body language and little thought bubbles. Some characters are terrified of you, some are confused by you, but most are absolutely frustrated. The music also fits with these theme of adding detail in the high-stakes moments. The game is fairly quiet, except for when you're spotted and the music amps up. The clean, colorful aesthetics fit well with the classical piano music that comes and goes throughout the game. The design overall is tied together in such a consistent way. Even the task list is written in cursive give this game a "classy" and "refined" feel, I would imagine to contrast with the startling HONK from the goose.
You could essentially continue playing Untitled Goose Game well past finishing all the tasks available and still find new fun ways to be incredibly annoying to the villagers. I saw a screenshot someone shared where they had collected literally all of the items in the game and put them in the river. This is the kind of completionism I can very much get behind. I've put a decent bit of time into the game, but I'll be going back to try to complete the timed quests as well as just to perform more random buffoonery. I've included a video of said buffoonery that did nothing to further my goals, but did put a smile on my face. I uploaded a couple more videos of my favorite moments, which you can check out on my YouTube channel here.
Untitled Goose Game is a perfectly silly game, it indulges a very human need to be incredibly petty and cause havoc. There's games out there where you shoot and kill people, so I don't think there's anything wrong with a game where you're a mean wild goose just ruining people's days. Games, perhaps more than other art and media, often serve a purpose of providing us a with a little escapism from the every day. Untitled Goose Game specifically also provides the player with so many positive emotions of pure laughter and satisfaction. It's definitely one of my new favorite games and one that I'd be excited to get anyone into playing, since everyone's response and approach is so different. My only complaint is I wish there were more Untitled Goose Game: more areas, more items, and more terrible tasks to complete.
Untitled Goose Game is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.
Played on: Nintendo Switch
Playtime: 8 hrs