Tactical Goosepionage Action
Honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk (wing flap) honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk (break pint glass) honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk (steal bra) honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk (turn neighbors against one another) honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk (guarantee child grows up with poor eyesight) honk honk honk honk honk honk honk.
Untitled Goose Game (Nintendo Switch [reviewed], PC)
Developer: House House
Released: September 20, 2019
Untitled Goose Game reminds me greatly of the animated series Shaun the Sheep. There’s little dialog, plenty of antics, and humans who keep getting outsmarted by birds. Unlike the titular Shaun from the show though, the goose in Untitled Goose Game is not a loveable little scamp who always comes to the aid of his friends. No, this goose is a dick.
Set in an unassuming little neighborhood on a quiet morn, this goose is on a mission to annoy as many local residents as it can. Armed with a checklist of tasks to complete — steal food, ruin laundry, break dartboard, etc. — the goose will waddle its way through five connected locations ruining the day of as many people as it can. Using just a few simple commands, including spreading its wings, ducking low to fit through tight spaces, grabbing items with its bill, and honking; the goose must complete enough tasks in each of the locations to move on.
Describing this as an asshole goose simulator is pretty damn accurate, but it’s actually a puzzle game with light stealth elements. If a person sees the goose stealing something it needs for its to-do list, they’ll give chase. Most often, they’ll eventually catch up to the bird. Players will have to use their knowledge of the objects for each area to their advantage, as well as recognizing the movement patterns of the humans you encounter. Untitled Goose Game is a slow, methodical experience where sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all, just sitting back and watching events transpire.
You don’t even need to solve all the puzzles in each area to see the game through to the end. After completing most of your to-do list, a new task will pop up that is the key to accessing the next location. If there is still a puzzle on your list you haven’t completed, you can always waddle your way back to it. There are scads of shortcuts on this little street and if you ever need to quit or restart, all of your progress is automatically saved.
Beginning to end, Untitled Goose Game runs about 90 minutes depending on how quickly you complete each to-do list. Different people will have different opinions about whether that is an acceptable length for a game of this price. It’s right in line with other short indie puzzlers for Switch like Donut County or Gorogoa, but I will say with one or two more puzzle settings, the final product would have left me with a greater sense of satisfaction when I watched the end credits roll. Thankfully, House House did include some post-game to-do lists with tasks that may take a while to get right.
The only real complaint I have is with its camera. It pans sporadically as humans move around the goose in a disorienting manner. There are zoom in and zoom out options, and you can toggle the camera in the options to permanently zoom out which does reduce how often and how severely the camera pans.
It may be brief, but Untitled Goose Game is worth taking a gander at. With its clever puzzle structure, charming art direction, and a soundtrack rife with Gershwin influence (nope, way off), it’s an absolutely grand way to spend an afternoon.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]