I have always been a bit of a goody two-shoes, rarely being naughty (albeit cheeky) and hating to get in trouble. I would however, sneakily stay up late as a kid, hiding the light from my gameboy or DS with the covers to avoid detection as I tried to sneak in some more game time. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Untitled Goose Game makes you throw your shoes out the window and anything else you can get your beak on for that matter.
The game starts by telling you to press a button to honk in a forest. Yes, a whole button just to let rip a honky-tonk tune whenever you feel like it. Honking can be used to great effect; you can startle, alert and lure your human counterparts to unleash your dastardly plans. Upon relinquishing your first honk of many, your goose-ly self emerges from some bushes in the forest and as you take a gander down a worn path, all of the games controls are laid out for you. The controls are all very intuitive, showing you how to operate typical avian functions like flapping your wings and extending your neck to reach high or low objects. Though it does take a little practice to learn how your goose handles; waddling and running can hamper your handling, it all makes sense when you think about it.
A goose old past time – a picnic
Leaving the tutorial and the forest, you swim into a peaceful and unsuspecting town stylised after a country town in the UK. When you reach town you find yourself outside a garden containing a busy groundskeeper with a cheeky to-do list in a neat and tidy UI. The game gives you a list of objectives that can be completed in almost any order, many of which are puzzles or scavenger hunts. Both of these aspects require you to explore the area available to you for items, get the lay of the land and to figure out a way of getting a particular phenomenon to occur. For example, to get into the garden, which is locked, you can turn on a sprinkler from the outside which causes the groundskeeper to open the gate to turn it back off. Some of the objectives are quite straightforward but that doesn’t make picking up and carrying/dragging items to a particular destination or just flat out stealing any less fun. Some items even interact with your honking for cute and funny effects. Some puzzles can be missed and would certainly shorten the experience, but if you are a completionist like me you will probably want to go back and solve those more difficult puzzles that may have eluded you initially, as you learn all that there is to know about gooselyness.
Strike a pose
By observing the thought bubble above a human’s head you can see what task they are going to perform next and what item they are after or going to fix because you sneakily moved it around or hid it with glee. The humans, when approached directly, are mostly unflappable, meaning that you typically have to revert to stealthy and/or brazen actions in order to get results. They are very OCD NPC humans to say the least, and they don’t take well to a goose messing with that. You know you’re getting close to finishing your to-do list for a particular part of town when they start signposting that this part of town is a goose-free zone. Getting up close and personal with a human does sometimes lead to some odd goose/human movements but these instances are pretty minor and don’t break the gameplay. The OCD nature of the NPCs is necessary in order for you to solve the puzzles and is also an artifact of the nature of the puzzles, but the environment in which each set of puzzles occurs in is unique enough that it doesn’t feel overly repetitive. This is especially true when the difficulty of the puzzles increases, requiring you to set up chain reactions and moving NPCs further than they would normally wander.
Finishing the more complex tasks on your list results in a gate or way forward to a different part of town being opened, allowing you to explore further and get new to-do lists. For example if you trap the shopkeeper inside her garage she will come out the side door of her house and open a gate to get back to her shop, which you can then slip through. If you complete all of the initial tasks on an area’s list a bonus task will show up.
The town, while filled with specific and restricted inhabitants is charming, and I greatly enjoyed finding my way around and discovering items I could interact with. The pastel, vector-like art style is timeless and pleasing. This art style provides very clean and interesting visuals, allowing many layers and details without overwhelming you whilst you concentrate on being fowl. Your goose interacts to a high degree with its surroundings, allowing you to hide or trick pursuing humans. The camera is not controllable in terms of rotation but it doesn’t need to be, it follows you as you move around and changes perspective cleanly as needed. This allows you to focus on how best to control the humans. You do need to take care of zooming however, which is relegated to the shoulder buttons so you can see what humans are doing or where they are for full sneaking. I do recommend, however, changing the zoom from hold-activated to toggle in the settings, especially for some of the later puzzles where I found myself staying zoomed out all the time and my finger went to sleep.
Untitled Goose Game has a beautiful piano soundtrack that is peaceful and perfectly matches the UK country town atmosphere. The game also has a high degree of musicality which greatly enhances the experience, with the volume and tempo of the music tying directly to how naughty you’re being – loud moments when you’re being chased or seen and quiet moments when you’re sneaking or just observing your target.
Whilst I didn’t expect this game to be overly long, the first set of objectives took me ~6 hrs and that isn’t all the game has to offer. With even more to-do’s (at a harder difficulty) being unlocked after an initial credit roll, this is a fun and price-worthy package. The game did have me questioning my morals as I took pride in causing mischief and mayhem to fellow human beings through the actions of a cute, gangly creature. In this game I have stolen, honked, trapped people inside of things, completed human’s chores in goosey ways, switcheroo-ed and broken more things than I ever have before and I greatly enjoyed waddling through every minute of it.
Reviewed on Switch // The review code supplied by publisher