Developer(s) – House House
Publisher(s) – Panic
Designer(s) – Stuart Gillespie-Cook, Nico Disseldorp, Michael McMaster & Jacob Strasser
PEGI – 3
Released by Melbourne-based developer House House back in 2019 on PC after much anticipation from gamers, and later ported to several home consoles, Untitled Goose Game is an adventure stealth game whereby player take control of a goose that must travel around a village and relentlessly annoy as many of the villagers as possible in as many ways as possible. It was very well received by critics and gamers alike and maintains a perfect 10/10 score on Steam. Whilst I found flaws with the game whilst playing, I found it overall to be a delightfully challenging, yet uproariously funny experience at the same time.
Graphics – 7/10
Set in an idyllic British village, the game makes use of cel-shaded visual design and a vibrant color palette perpetuated by lush, green landscapes and traditional village scenery and buildings such as gardens, pubs, and markets. The game’s soundtrack also flawlessly adds to the game’s atmosphere, constantly changing depending on what situation the player finds themself in; be that when they’re simply walking around, when they’re about to sneak up on someone or when forced to run away from villagers. It’s always a pleasure to experience a game like this, whilst may not look as visually original as others, still present variety in a number of different, and even more subtle kinds of ways.
Gameplay – 7/10
The player takes control of a mischievous goose roaming around a peaceful village. The player must undertake specific tasks given to them via a to-do list, all with the sole purpose of causing as much chaos around the village as possible. For example, the first sequence of the game has the player having to torment an unsuspecting groundskeeper by stealing the keys to his garden gate, putting his rake in a nearby pool, and stealing various other items in his garden in order to create a picnic nearby. Although the visuals aren’t particularly unique by today’s standards, the gameplay concept definitely is. The idea came from a very unlikely source; it came about when one of the staff at House House emailed the creative team a stock photograph of a goose, which led to a series of brainstorming sessions. For a seemingly finite concept that came virtually out of nowhere, it’s quite impressive to me how the development team was able to make as much of it as they did and create a game like this.
Controls – 10/10
Because there are an unprecedented amount of commands to have to use in Untitled Goose Game, getting used to controls and style of movement may take some time initially; but once mastered, it presents no problems, which is always impressive to think about when it comes to a new idea involving a new style of gameplay. I’ve come across a few indie games over the years, which have failed to impress in terms of controls, such as Octodad: Dadliest Catch and Aaru’s Awakening, but thankfully there are no issues with this game’s control scheme.
Lifespan – 4/10
The most disappointing aspect of this game is the short time it can be made to last for. To complete the game 100% takes about 5 hours, and I think there was definitely room for expansion in this respect. Though I said I was impressed with the development team’s ability to come up with the overall concept with having little to no ideas to go on initially, there are certainly a great number of ways in which the initial concept could have been built on for more objectives and side quests; and I for one would’ve been willing to wait a little bit longer to play it if it meant it could’ve been made to last longer.
Storyline – 6/10
The game’s premise, as I described early, is also the game’s story; but what stops it from making the story nonexistent is a variety of different things. The soundtrack adds to the game’s atmosphere as I pointed out before, but the goose’s journey is filled with hectic moments as well as drama and comedy; playing this game made me burst out laughing on several occasions. But there is also a nice little reveal at the end, which really epitomizes what this game set out to do and makes it feel like everything comes full circle in its own way.
Originality – 8/10
As I said, although the visual style and the conceptual design of the game aren’t particularly unique, what does make this game promptly stand out from the crowd is the concept of the gameplay itself. I love it when I come across a video game that seems basic at first glance, but ostensibly offers gamers an experience unlike any other without it being overly complicated and having a somewhat simplistic feel to it at the same time. There’s a simultaneous feel of tranquility and urgency to be had whilst playing this game and it makes for a very enjoyable experience.
Overall, Untitled Goose Game is a very good title for the short time that it lasts and it is certainly worth one playthrough at a minimum. It’s a simplistically designed game visually, yet has its own unique charm to it that separates it even from some of the most ambitiously designed indie titles of the eighth generation of gaming.