REVIEW: A honkin’ good time with ‘Untitled Goose Game’

By Mateusz Janik, Staff Reporter

Courtesy Untitled Goose Game
Released Sept. 20 and developed by House House—a video game company based in Melbourne, Australia—”Untitled Goose Game” allows its users to play as a goose.

Geese are notorious for being obstacles to Midwesterners, both by randomly attacking them and controlling portions of parks and walkways with their sheer numbers.

In Chicago, Canada Geese produce nearly a pound of feces each day and, to make matters worse, they are a federally protected species and have an artificial island named after them, Goose Island. So, what can one person do with an animal that spends most of its time intimidating people and making a mess along sidewalks?

“Untitled Goose Game” is the answer. Released Sept. 20 and developed by House House—a video game company based in Melbourne, Australia—the game allows its users to play as a goose while disrupting the daily routine of every person it comes across.

What caught my attention immediately was the mild-mannered English village, illustrated using minimalistic art styles that seamlessly guide the player through new environments as the game transitions from one area to the next. Sometimes I did get distracted by just exploring areas of the map, but that’s all part of the fun. Environments within the village include gardens, a town square, a pub and a pond. Though the interactions a player can have in those situations matter more.

The controls allow players to pick up items, lurch forward, flap their wings and honk to their heart’s desire. As players go around disturbing the peace, the game’s soundtrack crescendos upward with adapted arrangements of Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” as a reminder of the moral anguish they have caused.

I found this pleasing as most of the movements and actions in the game are tied along with the music. 

Each new area also has its own “to-do” list that tasks players with objectives, such as putting a gardeners’ rake in the lake or setting up a picnic with stolen items. A lot of the tasks can seem impossible from time-to-time, but they really force the player to take more stealth-like approaches. That’s good for changing the pace of the game from aimlessly exploring the village to having a more direct goal in mind.

In one instance, I had to move a radio onto a picnic blanket, but every time I picked it up, it would turn on and alert anyone nearby. After multiple tries of helplessly waddling away from non-player characters, I finally noticed that you can drag the radio on top of the sack of dirt on which it was originally placed. Moments like these made me realize how enticing it can be to just terrorize any new area you come across.

Once all the tasks are complete, players can unlock a time trial mode to put their “goosely” skills to the test.

Though most of the fun is from using the “honk” button, players will find it just as useful as it is diabolical. For example, when players reach the town square, there is a young boy appropriately named Wimp. If you’re like me, you can spend almost a half-hour chasing him around until he barricades himself inside a phone booth. The opportunities for gameplay and causing mild discomfort are endless and never boring.

Like other stealth open-environment gamessuch as the “Hitman” series, “Untitled Goose Game” has a wacky charm that will leave people laughing for hours. But just like “Hitman,” the game can be buggy.

Getting stuck between objectives when multiple items are taken away can be a regular occurrence, but players are allowed to reset the level through the “pause” menu so every item and NPC is put back in its original place.

There could be more to look forward to if the game developers decide to add additional downloadable content, such as new areas and tasks to increase the madnessHouse House should add holiday levels or even new variations of geese down the road to increase replay-ability.

For a limited time, the “Untitled Goose Game” costs $14.99 and is available for download on Mac, PC and the Nintendo Switch.

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