Untitled Goose Game review: The honk that’ll get you hooked

Untitled goose game
PLATFORM: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
DEVELOPER: House House
PUBLISHER: Panic
NO. OF PLAYERS: Single player

PROS

  • Gameplay is super easy to understand and can be appreciated by hardcore gamers, casual gamers, and beginners.
  • Graphics and art are very pleasing to the eyes. The 2D rendering and color choices contribute to that chill playing experience.
  • No stressing out needed.

CONS

  • The camera work is a bit challenging. It does add a certain depth to the way you follow the goose and the humans, but it can get frustrating when it switches and you’re not ready for it just yet.
  • You’ll be tempted to Google for the solutions to the objectives. Don’t.

It all started with a photo of a goose. That’s how the four-man team at House House came up with the Untitled Goose Game. A goose just looked…silly. Some people feared it for some reason. It looks like it’s out to get you. And so they made it become exactly like all of those things. They made a silly goose who’s out to play tricks on people just for the fun of it.

Untitled goose game

Shortly after the Untitled Goose Game released in September 2019, first for PCs and the Switch, it became a blockbuster hit. And after the game released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in December, it passed the million copies mark. The indie game was so successful it became one of the most bought titles on the Nintendo Switch in October, trumping the much-hyped The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

It also got cred in the critics’ circles. It won the Breakthrough Award at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards and received various nominations like Indie Game of the Year and Game of the Year (among others) from award-giving bodies like the 23rd D.I.C.E. Awards, Titanium Awards, The Game Awards 2019, and the 20th Game Developers Choice Awards.

And it’s not just the geeks who are loving the game. Immediately, it became the subject of many memes and parodies. The notorious “honk” sound that the goose would make made it to the feeds and timelines of many, not just the gamer circles. In fact, many non-gamers wanted and played the game. Adults were playing it. Kids were playing it. It was the Candy Crush for the Switch.

How’s that for a silly goose game?

Straight and simple The Untitled Goose Game’s gameplay is simple. You’re a goose and your objectives are pretty straightforward: create havoc in the nice English neighborhood. You’re only able to run, hold, or drag things, duck (no pun intended), and, of course, honk. No crazy parkour jumps, fly boosts that will take you to secret levels, or one-ups to get extra life. Spoiler alert: you don’t need extra life.

Untitled goose game

You’re given a set of objectives per area, all of them just to pointlessly irk the human/s in that area. You can restart levels because some objectives need to be accomplished on top of each other. But it’s not too convoluted that having to re-do the level will make you want to pull out all your hair.

Each level or area will have unique circumstances and objectives. What worked for the last level may or may not work on the next one. In one level, you have to steal a young boy’s glasses, grab his toy airplane, and make him buy it back from the shop. Okay, that sounds a bit mean, but remember, you’re just a goose. No hard feelings!

Underlying mischief

It doesn’t feel like it but it’s actually both a stealth and puzzle game designed to test how evil the cogs in your mind work. When the objective reads “Make the man wear his sunhat,” how do you go about it if he’s already wearing a flat cap?

The answer: make him hammer his thumb while putting up a “no goose allowed” sign and then steal his cap when he falls down on his bum. And then you honk. Again, no hard feelings. You’re just a silly goose.

Simple, good-natured silliness is what it is, really. It’s creating chaos without guns, sneaking around without decapitating people, and winning levels without shedding blood or making morally dividing decisions. But it’s in its seeming simplicity that it gets challenging.

As a puzzle game, it twists your brain and makes you think how to accomplish each objective by enabling different elements in the area. You’ve got to have patience, because sometimes your first idea might not work. Maybe it’s not working not because it’s wrong, but just because you need the proper timing. Maybe it’s not working because there’s a better way to do it. But you have to have patience to try and try and think and try again because you can’t slash and hack your way to complete an area.

Untitled goose game

And can we just talk about the honking? The goose’s honking will drive you nuts as you keep trying to honk your way through objectives. But then, you’ll still find yourself honking in victory once you successfully make the human’s life a bit more frustrating. Can’t lie; that honk got me hooked.

Pure, harmless fun

In a world where games have become more and more complicated, all of them at each other’s throats for the best graphics or the wildest plots, throwing people into a frenzy over paid content and gear, it’s refreshing to have casual games like the Untitled Goose Game–no frills, no frou-frous.

It’s tempting to create mindless games that can pass and kill the time. It’s tempting to create cash cows that can keep the player in it because they’ve already invested so much. But it’s developers like House House that can create games that go back to the core of playing—just pure, harmless fun. Fun that will make you think, will make you exert effort, but not to the point that it will stress you out. Fun that will test your skill, but not alienate you from the game if you’re a noob. Fun that has a conclusion, that gives you that satisfaction of a “Job well done; let’s move on.”

Speed says

If you haven’t played the Untitled Goose Game, get it now! Play it! Get a taste of the kind of fun that sparked something new in the whole gaming industry. Enjoy the good art, a bit of logic, and a bit of a brain-twist of the game while you’re at it.

Words Jovi Figueroa
First published in Speed Magazine February 2020 issue

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