There’s no specific formula for a great idea. Oftentimes they just catch us off-guard and explode into a viral sensation. Gaming is primed for moments like these, because all it takes is one developer bold enough to try something different, and it could easily catch on.
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the pitch meeting for Untitled Goose Game, but it’s clear that this was one of those moments where every concept fell into place to create a game that received widespread recognition at launch. Now that the game has come to PS4, it’s time to find out what exactly made Untitled Goose Game such a cultural sensation.
A Goose With Nothing to Lose
For me, gaming is one of the most powerful art forms we’ve created as a species. It combines the visuals you would expect from art, the sensations you want from well-composed music, and the storytelling you want from a book or movie. All of this, and it adds a layer of interactivity that no other medium can boast.
Games have made me cry, made me laugh, and made me think about my place in the universe. Untitled Goose Game warranted more than a few laughs, but it also plastered a huge smile on my face in a way few games can.
The setup is simple: you’re a goose that’s on a mission to wreak havoc in a small town. You do this by following to-do lists that outline the goals for your mischief in each area. The game is composed of clever, wholesome pranks that sometimes made me feel bad for the victims, but overall seemed like exactly the kind of thing a goose would get up to in its spare time.
I think one of the first things that struck me about Untitled Goose Game was how well the concept fits together into a gaming experience. As my Player 2, Christina, put it: “This game has no right being this good.” Indeed, I wouldn’t expect a game about messing with people to be this fun, but it’s a testament to the vision and the mechanics that it all works so well.
It starts with simple controls. You can duck, run, honk, pick up things, and spread your wings as you move about. The last one is almost purely for show, so you’ll only need to worry about a couple buttons. The dedicated honk button is a fun way to startle people or express your dissatisfaction with how people in the town treat you.
Using these controls, you’ll access a to-do list that gives you objectives like “get this person wet” or “break this object.” These spiral into more complex tasks like gathering multiple items, trapping people in places, or even setting events into motion that lead to the preferred outcome.
I’d rather not spoil the details, but suffice to say the game’s world is designed to react in fun and unique ways to your experimentation. In some cases, you can even accomplish goals in different ways based on how you approach the situation.
This combination of direction and a sandbox design really makes you feel like a part of the world. It also helps that the people react in hilarious ways to your antics, so frustrating them becomes a bit of a guilty pleasure as time goes on.
Almost everything can be picked up, stolen, or manipulated in some way, which lends the world a very tactile feel. With multiple areas to explore and some endgame challenges to complete, Untitled Goose Game feels pretty substantial, despite only being a few hours long (depending on how quickly you solve things).
It's the kind of experience that anyone, regardless of age or skill level, can enjoy. I think that, combined with the unique premise and the high level of interactivity, played into the game’s success in the mainstream.
It’s undeniably charming, a fun world to experiment within, and deliciously satisfying when you finally figure out how to complete some of the more ambiguous objectives the game throws at you.
A Polished and Detailed Experience
Untitled Goose Game has a lovely art style that mixes vibrant colors with simple and clean textures. The animations are detailed and lifelike, but still retain a simple and pleasing look. The way the Goose moves, for example, gives the impression of a confident gait, and when you duck it looks like a predator stalking its prey.
There’s a lot of personality conveyed through these animations, and that extends to the people as well, who throw up their hands, try to shoo you away from them, or otherwise stomp their feet in frustration. Without any spoken words, the game manages to convey a surprising amount of emotion from all the characters involved.
All of this is wrapped up in a soundtrack that I didn’t expect, but ultimately loved. The game has a peaceful and calm piano track that quickly switches to a more robust and rhythmic tone when you’re spotted, but it’s never stressful. I would describe it more as a playful melody that increases in tempo as you’re being chased by one of the town’s residents.
I wouldn’t have expected a piano-focused soundtrack here, but it plays into the game’s charm and reinforces the wholesome fun you’re having as you mildly inconvenience and prank people in the place you call home.
It’s games like this that catch us all off-guard in the best way possible. Not only does it welcome players of all ages and skills into the world of gaming, but it provides a fun, hilarious, and engaging way to pass the time for a few hours.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Untitled Goose Game was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 1/17/2020