I may remember Untitled Goose Game mostly for the memes it spawned (and that heavily influenced my decision to buy it), as well as my utter fury when I found out that days after I bought the game on the Nintendo Switch, it was made available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers (of which I’m a subscriber – so, basically, free for me).
Untitled Goose Game isn’t going to chew much into your day unless you’re like me and need to rest your brain a bit between even the easiest of puzzles. It’s a quick foray through a suburban English-style community that challenges you, as an all-mighty, dastardly goose that you are, to complete a senseless list of tasks in a handful of areas. Barring multiple runs, you can expect to spend no more than a few hours on the entire experience.
Basically, your goal as a goose is to fuck with people. And the hilarious (or meant to be) scenarios the game’s checklists force you into are hit-or-miss from an entertainment perspective. If you embrace the ridiculousness of your achievements and put aside the reason you’re meant to be the literal worst goose of all time, you may find more silly joy in Untitled Goose Game than I did. But, once I understood the pattern of the game, my ever-present smirk that held true from the first boot through its early portions, quickly faded, and only returned at rare moments.
I felt that my wife, idly standing at the door behind me ever so often, found more consistent pleasure in the ridiculousness of controlling a goose, his listless honks, and the mischief he caused. But I believe that’s because her exposure was limited to the visuals, sounds, and outcomes. The actual playing of Untitled Goose Game was much more the chore. This is why I’m actually thankful it was such a short experience.
As goose, you’ll explore (or see all on-screen at once, due to some really small areas), a mere five zones connected by short roads and back-alley paths. You’ll complete tasks in these areas that range from locking a nerdy kid in a phone booth to getting an old man’s shoes wet. How to complete these tasks is where the challenge lies, but don’t expect to struggle for too long. Some challenges are more obvious than others, but a select few do take a bit more understanding of your goose’s (and the game’s) limitations. All-in-all, the game won’t challenge you for very long at any point.
Untitled Goose Game is at its best when you remove challenge and mind from the equation, stroll around, and do your own thing. Your goose has a limited move set, but I believe one of the things that Untitled Goose Game gets so right rests with the simple control of your goose. You can honk, run, swim (which happens simply by entering a body of water), duck (also, sneak), and extend your wings to present a most-menacing presence. But really, the only useful tools at your disposal are honk, duck, and grab. Watch goose carry around (well, anything) and goose fun you will have. And, your mischievous deeds don’t get much more entertaining than those that aren’t dictated by a checklist. Sneaking up behind an unsuspecting countryman, for example, and delivering a hefty “honk” is always met with a satisfying gasp on their part.
It’s appropriate (and lazy) that your last challenge is a hair-raising sprint back through each of the communities you’ve conquered – yep, at this point, you’ve seen what limited content there is to see and then forced to see it again. During your desperate rush, where you must carry a constantly-clanging shiny bell, the population sets to the task of preventing your escape back to the original starting area. At the end, I ran, I flapped, I honked, and I weaved my way around pedestrians until I’d reached my target. And, as quickly as I had sprinted back to the shiny bell’s final destination, I sprinted to my Xbox dashboard where I would uninstall Untitled Goose Game once and forever.
Untitled Goose Game is available now on all major platforms. And, there are worse things you can dump $15 on for a three-hour distraction (Batman v Superman, anyone? Ok, I actually liked that one). So get to honking folks!