Untitled Goose Game – Nintendo Switch
Developed By: House House
Published By: Panic
Category: Sandbox Goose em’ up
Release Date: September 20, 2019
Sometimes a game comes along which you know how to play just by watching it and immediately looks fun to play. A lot of the most memorable games are those with a simple and fun premise, that are easy to pick up and play. Nintendo itself has always strived to create such experiences for it’s core franchises, such as Mario and Zelda, to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. With the Switch, Nintendo has courted the best indie developers out there who have delivered some of the best pick and play gaming experiences of this generation.
This game is from what you might describe as an indie supergroup. The developers are Australian developer House House whose previous release was couch co-op game Push Me Pull You, where you and your partner are both joined at the waist and must wrestle your opponent for the ball. Oregon based Panic are the publishers, who originally published indie darling walking simulator Firewatch and are working on a new handheld console Playdate which includes a black and white screen and a crank on the side which you can wind.
House House have gone in a slightly different direction with their latest release. Untitled Goose Game is a game where you play a horrible goose tasked with causing mischief in a traditional British village. Sounds simple and fun, and it is. The game starts with a refreshingly short yet comprehensive tutorial which welcomes you to this sandbox world.
In each area of the village, you have a list of pranks which might be to steal something, lock someone out of their garden or make one of the village residents do something inadvertently. You can do these when you want and in any order, although each area has its own list of pranks and certain areas are gated (literally) until you have completed certain ones. Each prank is like a puzzle to solve, often with hilarious results. Accurate in game physics give the world and its items a logic reminiscent of Zelda BOTW. The physics in Nintendo’s masterpiece were used to great effect, and in many of its Shrines, and here they are applied to similar effect in this quaint British village.
Being a sandbox it’s fun playing around seeing what you can do, and often you’ll need to try out a few things when trying to complete your next prank. Some of the challenge can be trying to work out how to complete some of them. I mean you are a goose so how do you get on TV? There is logic to the game world but some of the pranks will have you scratching your head for a little while before you have that eureka moment.
The game looks quintessentially British, all the way down to the double yellow lines on the road and the man in his garden drinking a cup of tea. It looks gorgeous with an art style which is quite minimalist yet oozing with personality. It’s residents don’t even have eyes and mouths yet you can still see their dismay when you run out of their garden with their prized carrots. You don’t hear them speak but you can see a bubble appear above their heads showing what they are thinking about, such as where did their radio go. This game looks and performs great in docked and handheld, and when viewed on a big screen TV it looks like a piece of modern art hanging in your living room.
The soundtrack is in keeping with the minimalist art style, with often only the patter of goose feet or the sweeping of the shopkeeper’s brush heard during the lazy summer afternoon. These periods of peaceful quiet are broken by dynamic piano themes which play and develop according to the mischief unfolding on screen, heightening the hilarity.
Controls can occasionally be a bit fiddly when attempting to move around and have the camera zoomed out, only rarely leading to frustration. There are also some occasional frustrating instances where you have multiple items in the same place you can interact with but you can’t access a certain item. But neither of these issues spoil the fun.
The experience is short but perfectly formed. It may only last you a couple hours, but it may be one of the most memorable games you play this year. You have the opportunity to create more mischief after your first playthrough with new lists of pranks to complete, and there’s the additional challenge of completing each list of pranks to a time limit.
You will find yourself chuckling regularly while you attempt to complete the range of imaginative and humourous pranks. This is one of 2019’s most memorable games and not to be missed. The antihero protagonist is so endearing it is paradoxical yet House House have created one of gaming’s newest icons, and who would have thought it would be a horrible goose.