Geese are the worst. They’re the wasps of birds. Completely and unnecessarily mean, all the time. But, sometimes, you may look at a goose and say, “It would be nice to be a goose, and to be a jerk without understanding what consequences are.” If you’ve ever thought something like this then Untitled Goose Game is the game for you.
The premise of the game is rather simple, and the description of the game in the store says it all: “It is a lovely morning in the village and you are a horrible goose.” You play as a goose, and it is your job to wreak as much havoc on the people of a lovely rural village as you possibly can. You enact your chaos using a variety of different objects all over town, stealing, breaking, or just getting in the way of things.
The game is a stealth puzzle game structured through a series of tasks on a to-do list—players must get their goose to do these specific acts of annoyance without the villagers catching on to what you’re doing, with the final task being to open a path to the next area. The game has only five areas, so it is rather short, but it does have some replayability—the game is set up in a sandbox style, so finishing the game gives the player access to all the previous levels to go back and mess around in. Players who finish all the main tasks on the to-do list are given an additional to-do list, with harder tasks that may require the player to bring items from one area to another (for example, kicking a soccer ball from the market area to the soccer net in the garden area so the goose can score a goal).
The controls are not complicated, as there are only so many things a goose can do. As the goose, you can walk, run, honk, duck (or, in this case, goose?), and flap your wings. Regrettably enough, you cannot fly, nor get your poop to stain every sidewalk in the game, which I personally feel like are key parts to being a terrible goose. Yet I understand the difficulties of giving players control over these functions.
The goose is a tiny bit difficult to control, with what I like to refer to as ‘goose drift’ making precise movements difficult, although I suppose turning must be harder with webbed feet. The ‘goose drift’ takes some getting used to and definitely complicates maneuvering your way away from angry villagers at first. This learning curve is a bit frustrating, but with the to-do list setup letting you complete tasks separately, you don’t lose much progress if you get caught a few times. I also had a couple of instances of clipping or glitching that let a villager walk through a fence, or had the goose get stuck somewhere he was not supposed to be. Thankfully, the game does include a reset level option as a last-ditch solution. I found both of these issues to be pretty minor overall, and neither really deducted from my enjoyment in any way.
My favorite part of Untitled Goose Game is, of course, being the worst goose and finding as many ways to ruin people’s days imaginable. While usually I am the type of person who can’t bear to be mean, even in a video game, there is something about being a little goose who can’t read, or take responsibility for his actions, or understand consequence that is just so freeing. The game gives you so many options on how to go about wreaking havoc. The tasks you are given can be solved in a variety of different ways. Do you want to get the farmer wet by sending him on a wild goose chase into the lake because that’s where you put his hat? Great! What if you want to get the farmer wet by locking him in his garden and turning the sprinkler on? Also acceptable!
Not only are there tons of ways to ruin people’s day, there are also many items the goose can interact with (and subsequently use to ruin people’s days). There is so much care put into the programming of the way these items work. When your goose holds a bottle on his beak, his honks are muffled and echo off the glass. When the goose holds a walkie-talkie and honks, his honk comes out of the other walkie-talkie. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a walkie-talkie in a game and hoping you can use it as such and actually being rewarded. Little details like these make interacting with all the items in the game so much fun.
Part of the enjoyment of the game for me definitely comes from its charm. There’s something about the simple and cartoony style of the game, with its faceless characters and over-exaggerated motions that make it easy to figure out what people are doing (even for a goose who cannot comprehend language) that is just so visually pleasing. The little details in the game, like the variations in the items as well as the slappy sounds the goose’s feet make when he walks, combine with the cute charm of the art into a game that is an absolute delight to play.
Untitled Goose Game is a short and simple game, but its premise and charm make it an absolute blast to play through. I enjoyed every minute of my goose shenanigans, and definitely have just been playing it for a few minutes every day just to get my fix of being a nuisance.
Elizabeth played Untitled Goose Game on the Nintendo Switch using a copy she purchased herself.