Untitled Goose Game Review: Avian Agent of Chaos

People online are practically jumping up and down excited about a casual simulation game about a naughty, naughty goose. In its first two weeks, Untitled Goose Game sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. We've officially crossed the Rubicon. With enough creativity, anything can be a game.

One of the unique attributes of being a goose is that most people ignore you unless you're causing trouble. Waddling through a world of people absorbed in their own tasks and leisure, you can fly mostly under the radar. When you intrude on their livelihoods or otherwise make a mess, they'll chase and shoo you away. They'll shake their fist and rue the day, but their responses are fully non-violent and realistic. People care about and react to you in more or less the same way they would react to a real live goose in that situation: they'll flap their arms until they scare you off. One meek boy in particular will flee from you, like a scared child might when honked at by a cruel goose. Contrast this with other games that use direct conflict to drive story and provide gameplay, the situations of Untitled Goose Game become low-stakes and more like extended jokes. And it works. Magically. It would be absurd if it wasn't so realistic in the way the world reacts to you. It never tips into being unrealistic, which makes the experience that much more satisfying from the perspective of a goose. You're finally getting a piece of the pie that all geese in this world freely eat: terrorizing humans for no discernible reason.

The game features an incredible and dynamic music score that reacts live to the choices you make. When you sneak up on someone or an objective, the pitter-patter of music will build and grow in turn. When you finally seize an opportunity or make some real trouble, the piano score will undergo a reactive crescendo that makes gameplay more like a performance you share with others. As a result, it's wickedly fun to play this game with an audience of friends. The musical choices of the game make revisiting it enjoyable and always different.

The game is silly and creative, and I was laughing the whole way through. However, it's driven by the premise alone so once you complete all of the main tasks (and all of the bonus tasks) then there's very little reason to revisit it, other than to show your friends that you own Untitled Goose Game. The pranks you can undertake are thrilling, but you'll hit a point where most everything has been done. The brief and endlessly funny interactions between the titular (untitular?) goose and the denizens of the village are charming but once you push all of everyone's buttons, there's very little else to try. The environment is peaceful and fun, which is why it's so fun to try and wreck the idyllic calmness of it all. The world is your canvas and the goose is your paint.

Untitled Goose Game drew similar attention as Goat Simulator on social media, both being sandbox-style games in which the player is invited to create chaos as a semi-domesticated animal. Similarly, the contents of both games have become memes in their own right because of the almost-absurd nature of the tasks involved. Indeed, Untitled Goose Game invites memes with its relatively plain palette and simple graphics. The soft colors and flat greens make each moment a snapshot of a pastoral hamlet, almost lost in time with its narrow roads and winding aqueducts (on which you quickly sail away as a fast-swimming goose). The goose itself is white and simple, a most memetic representation of the bird there can be. @Foone has created a meme generator that lets you mock up a game image with your own Untitled Goose Game tasks (and even cross them out), furthering its the meme potential. The simplicity of its presentation makes it just as engaging to watch as it is to play, and perhaps that creates the ultimate (and only) problem with the game: it's not much more rewarding to play than it is to watch. But if you want to get your feathers on some mischief, you can buy Untitled Goose Game now for PC, Mac, or the Nintendo Switch for only $20.