Untitled Goose Game Review
“HONK” - Goose (2019)
In a world so fractious and divided as the one we find ourselves in, it makes sense for people to seek out a champion: Someone — or something — that will take a stand for what is good, rebel when required, and represent the spirit of the people. And, make no mistake, 2019 will be remembered as the year of the Goose.
A delightful-looking game with a bright, clear, almost doll house aesthetic, Untitled Goose Game took the world by storm upon its initial release on Nintendo Switch and PC in September. It’s not quite the perfect all-rounder, but House House has proved just what a passionate team with a good idea, however simple, can do. Its ‘goose on the loose’ formula grabbed people immediately and continues to entertain and charm on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
A little charm goes a long way here too. If House House could bottle the kind of unbridled joy that’s at the core of Untitled Goose Game they’d never have to worry about money again. Just thinking about the ridiculous mischief I got up to, wreaking havoc and honking to my heart's content in that quaint, all too British, toy box town sends a smile shooting across my face. Untitled Goose Game has a delightful, almost childlike, wholesome quality that just sticks with you.
It’s that heart that carries the game from start to finish. Had it not been for the genuine warmth this game exudes, it may have been easier to spot its flaws. In full flow, revelling in the chaos, honking, and laughing at just how ridiculous everything is, you’ll be living your best goose life. When things slow down, however, and you need to cross that last thing off your objective list, is where things start to fall apart a little.
That’s because, brilliantly farcical ideas aside, Untitled Goose Game is a pretty primitive puzzle game: You’re finding and moving objects, setting straightforward traps and getting from A to B. It’s repetitive, but it’s at its best here. Introducing layers of complexity only spotlights things like how imprecise the controls are, the repetitive nature of the tasks, and turns that grumpy old shopkeeper into the bane of your existence. The heartwarming and exuberant fun and games soon descending into expletive-laden, trial and error frustration.
Thankfully, those moments seldom affected my initial playthrough. Most of the main tasks were straightforward and harmless, but going back for the bonus tasks might stretch you a little. Altogether, the game generally does a good job of not outstaying its welcome with levels compact enough to keep you on track but with freedom to create your own fun.
That’s the only thing I wish there was more of. As enjoyable as the puzzles were, the moments where things went a bit off the rails were my favourite parts Untitled Goose Game. Laughing with my girlfriend and trading the controller back and forth as the silliness mounted was brilliant. I definitely recommend playing this with friends around. However, it’s almost as if the structure gets in the way a little. Without it, Untitled Goose Game could easily become just another in a long line of giddy, half-baked, ‘simulator’ games. However, further embracing the chaos wouldn’t have hurt either.
Despite some minor frustrations, Untitled Goose Game is one of my favourite games of the year and is proof that a passionate team with even the silliest, simplest of ideas can produce gold. I laughed, I honked, I conquered. Rarely is a game so understanding of what it is — a joyous, silly, gem.
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