Duck, Duck, Chaos!...
Untitled Goose Game poses an answer to a question as old as time. ‘What if goose, but mischief?’
This offering from Indie developer ‘House House’ struck a chord immediately with both the gaming and casual public alike from the very first five-second glimpse given during a switch highlight reel back in 2017. (like Cuphead did back on the Microsoft showcase)
This was in no small part due to the charming art style, a pastel storybook take on solid cell shading set in a quaint old English colonial village.
However, what immediately set the world on fire was the titular goose who was deemed worthy of this working title project.
This goose has since become the bird who launched a thousand memes. An avatar of pure malevolence offset by a cute waddle and a gleaming white plumage. These guys knew what they had the second they had it.
Untitled Goose Game starts you off in a very unassuming manner, you simply start a new game and now you’re a goose. Your tutorial consists of a very quick breakdown of verbs that you have in your arsenal. B to run, A to grab, ZL to dip your head, ZR to flap your wings, but most importantly, Y to honk!
This one-button action is probably the most satisfying action I have taken in a videogame this year.
After a few moments of exploration, you will encounter your first glimpse of civilisation.
A small public park leading into a private walled vegetable garden. Or in the eyes of your demonic fowl, the battlefield on which the war of annoyance is to be waged! Here is where the progression mechanic is first introduced to you. A handwritten list of slightly vague objectives, written in cursive on sheets of lined paper.
These objectives serve as a gentle nudge in the right direction of what needs to be done to unlock the next area without giving up the ghost completely.
This my friends is where the craic is to be had!
One minute you’re on a scavenger hunt for the perfect English Sunday picnic, the next you’re working out how to trap a frightened small boy in a payphone booth, before eventually formulating a stealthy entry method past a bouncer on the gate of a cobblestoned beer garden.
The situational gameplay to be found here is fantastic and really plays to the strength of the overall premise.
As I sit here typing, I’m itching to go into detail as to how I figured out various points of mallard mischief, but in doing so I would be robbing you of the sheer joy of doing so yourself. This is why you are here after all.
I've mentioned a few times now the games English setting, I struggle to think of a more perfect setting for Goose related chaos than a sleepy village. However, the most impressive point I find in how well realised this slice of Anglo suburbia is realised to be the fact that the developer is based out of Melbourne Australia. Chalk and cheese springs to mind.
Despite the cell shading, I feel I know this setting. Iv sat by this lakeside, I've drunk a pint of ale in the sun by this bar.
Several small touches help realise this cartoon'y world into something more familiar:
The layout of two back gardens where the items and visual personality almost vocalise an uneasy alliance formed between two people of very different tastes, an alliance you are soon to obliterate. The items your goose can pick up and interact with bringing back memories, to the point where I caught myself on more than one occasion going “we had one of those back in the day”.
The sprawling laneways between and behind houses, spilling out onto pedestrianised village roads.
This developer clearly has a talent for world realisation, and with this being only their second released game under this banner I cannot wait to see where they take us next!
My only gripe after finishing the game is that I just wasn’t ready for it to end when it did
As the switch deems ‘time played’ as some sort of elusive, mysterious figure to be doled out to you in generalities, it's hard to give an exact timeline of how long the experience lasted. I estimate the three-hour mark but knowing my way around the commonage I could certainly cut this down by at least half on a second play through to see credits roll. Now should you choose to continue after the credits, the game does allow you another go around, with new line item challenges being added to each sandbox area with ever so slight changes to the level layout. However, these are very much here for the completionist’s, or perhaps a return visit, but these fall a little short for me as it feels like retreading old ground.
This is a game that must be viewed as an experience. One to be shared with everyone, gamer or not.
I have certainly extended my time with the game by sharing it with my girlfriend, and I plan to play through it again the next time my little sister comes to town. This shows that you cannot put a price on charm.
That said I certainly would not refuse some free DLC if it were to be revealed. (a guy can dream)
Untitled Goose Game is truly something very special. A game that on paper shouldn’t exist until; you see it in action and wonder how we have come so far without it! I will likely not return to this myself for quite some time as I’ll carry the experience with me, but I will force everyone I can to honk in the name of avian anarchy for years to come. This game is a must-buy for anyone with a whimsical love of fun and simple offbeat humour and I simply can't recommend it enough for that reason.
Now go forth young geese and pester!
Let us know what you thought of this goose on the loose below in the comments and be sure to check back in to keep in the loop.
All imagery taken from the official Goose Game presskit: https://goose.game/presskit/