It’s a lovely day in the village, and you are a horrible goose.
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also available for: Windows, Mac
Developer: House House Games
The Team: Nico Disseldorp, Jacob Strasser, Michael McMaster, Stuart Gillespie-Cook
Music: Dan Golding
Sound Design: Em Halberstady (of A Shell in The Pitt)
The majority of my family thinks that video games are either Crash Bandicoot or ultra-violent first-person shooters, which, of course, in some ways is right. Over the years I’ve shown them, and others who don’t play games, things like the Ratchet & Clank remake or Uncharted 4 to show how impressive games can look nowadays, and how far the technology has come. Untitled Goose Game from Melbourne based developer House House Games — which I shall refer to as Goose Game from now on for my sanity [Editor’s note: I disapprove of this shortening. Disrespectful.]— is going to be my new go-to for showing off what kind of games people are making at the moment. It’s the type of game you can easily show grandparents or kids who haven’t played games much before, or at all, and get them honking in no time.
In Goose Game, you make your way through four interconnected areas in a small village. Within each, there’s a checklist of tasks to complete. In the first, these range from stealing fruit from a Gardner to stealing his hat, and although the game is never hard, some of the tasks had me thinking for the perfect amount of time without getting too frustrated. Once you complete enough of the tasks you’ll get a new one which upon completion takes you to the next area, and so forth you go on your mission to honk, cause trouble and generally distress literally every single person that lives in this village.
Being a nimble, honking goosey you can duck under objects, grab things above you and at your feet and pull them or carry them. You can then, of course, honk, and with glorious strutting fashion pull off beautiful wing-spanning to show your true glorious nature. These are the all the skills a goose needs to steal, destroy and sneak.
It took me around 2.5-3 hours to complete Goose Game but missed one or two tasks and once you complete the game it opens up a bunch more for you to go complete anyway, as well as some speed-running based challenges for those inclined to honk with pace.
I laughed, chuckled, smiled and generally had an absolutely fantastic time playing Goose Game. It’s charming, and as much as you’re playing a seemingly evil master-mind, no one in the game is getting hurt, so nothing is malicious or even too violent for children. Is chasing a child around a street and into a phone booth causing him to call his parent for help bad? Yes, and hopefully that child isn’t scared for life with a fear of geese, but at the same time, said parents run the local TV store and when I got inside I got to HONK on TV which was very funny. Swings and roundabouts.
A colourful afternoon school program design makes everything feel very relaxed and charming, but it’s the music that ties all the elements of Goose Game together. Dan Golding crafted what seems like various versions of Debussy’s Prelude’s that work within the game reactioning to what’s going on. If you’re simply walking around, there’s probably no music. If you start creeping in to steal, say, the gardeners’ keys the music will start keying in slowly and when you grab the keys the pace picks up and takes off just as the goose does. It’s this fantastic use of music and its implementation within the game that makes the whole thing feel like a 1930’s Chaplin inspired slap-stick comedy.