Indie darling Untitled Goose Game has been a Switch exclusive for a while, and those who haven’t bought into Nintendo’s latest console could only sit back and watch the memes fly. Fortunately that exclusivity has been short-lived and House House have ported the naughty avian simulator to other platforms. A whimsical offering that found cult status before release that prompted the development team to keep the in-progress name rather than giving it a full blown title, can it spread its wings and fly with a wider audience? Or is it destined to just honk to itself in the dark?
The premise of Untitled Goose Game is pretty simple – be a goose, annoy town folk, repeat. With a list of random objectives set across several areas of a town map, the only goal is to tick off the to-do list. Honk, flap, grab and run are the only abilities on hand and it’s here that the game reveals that it’s really a stealth puzzler. To make progress the goose can only interact with objects it can pick up or drag around, and because it can’t fly it’s a matter of distracting and harassing the locals to get them to do its bidding. Sneaking around and not getting shooed away is key to solving each section because getting spotted when getting up to no good is going to attract unwanted attention.
With an isometric layout and hand painted style, there’s a lot of colour and charm conveyed across the town without overdoing the details. No matter where you wander and what you interact with it feels solid and realistic with physics playing a part in some of the solutions. There’s a lot to pick up and drag about too, so figuring out the right items needed to cross off the to-do list action can take some trial and error. That said, if you put yourself in the webbed feet of a mischievous bird you’ll probably work out what to do pretty quickly. The stealth elements come into play with some of the more observant and mobile AI, and you’ll be surprised how much sneaking around a goose needs to do.
With 5 main game areas linked by backtracking passageways it doesn’t take too long to get through the “story” mode, and there’s additional content for the adventurous and speedy. Arguably, it’s after the game is done that things become more interesting and experimental, and you can really see how much variety there can be in this relatively simple premise. If you’re hankering after an experience that lets you just been a pain in the ass to all and sundry with no real consequence then it’s possible to lose hours messing around in the world. The additional to-do list that opens up gives a lot of clues, but also allows some free thinking too, so doesn’t feel as constrained as the first run through.
It’s a tight game structure and a map that only takes a couple of minutes to waddle across, and unless you’re hellbent on seeing and doing absolutely 100%, the novelty will have worn off by the 3 hour mark. This is the main issue with Untitled Goose Game – it keeps itself a bit too short. That also means that it doesn’t outstay its welcome either, yet I couldn’t help wanting a little more from it. The puzzle difficulty isn’t overly tough, with maybe only one or two head scratching points, which given the doggedness of the AI means it doesn’t get too frustrating. Ultimately, it means you’re never stuck for too long, and the majority of the time the next steps are pretty intuitive… which says good things about the design.
A fun few hours that’s suitable for all ages, Untitled Goose Game is definitely unique and a type that definitely doesn’t come along that often. Riding the top of a publicity wave, it’s great to see that it doesn’t disappoint as so many titles can end up doing. It’s not easy to ignore the price either – with it being pitched pretty low, there’s good reason to pick it up, and it’s even discounted for the first couple of weeks. A must buy for the indie game lovers out there, and one that’s sure to at the least put a wry smile on the most cynical of us. There’s little excuse to not grab your pad and get honking.
Untitled Goose Game is available on PS4 and Xbox One now at around £15, and has been terrorising the locals on the Switch for a while.