‘Press Y to Honk.’
These are the words that appear as you begin ‘Untitled Goose Game’. So you hit Y, and the innocuous green bush on screen gives out a little ‘honk’. There’s a rustling. A white head pops out of that bush. It’s a goose. The goose waddles forward, and you begin to control it. It dawns on you. You actually are going to be playing this entire game as a cheeky goose.
That’s about it for the controls, really. L button to lower your head, R button to open your wings – this goose ain’t complicated. But it’s the levels of comedy that the developers have added that elevates this to a truly great game. Your mission is to create as much mischief as possible in the quaint, cartoon-y village setting. The slapstick innocence is core to the games mechanics, and that’s what’s so great about it.
It’s remarkable how refreshing a game like this feels. None of the comedy is too adult. It’s not even PG. You’re tentatively sneaking around behind ‘enemies’, but instead of snapping terrorists necks or shoving poor henchmen off ledges, you’re… having a bit of mess about and playing a few tricks on them.
You’re stealing their keys. You’re impersonating their garden ornaments. You’re honking at the right time so they spill their tea. These are the harmless shenanigans that make up ‘Untitled Goose Game’, and they feel fantastic. Make no mistake, this is a stealth game but it’s closer to ‘Laurel & Hardy’ or ‘Dad’s Army’ than ‘Ghost Recon’ or ‘Metal Gear Solid’.
It’s also bags of fun with friends or family. Though entirely one-player, it makes for a perfect parlour game. Download it, show it to your parents and see if they can figure out the controls and they’ll be honking in no time. That’s not to say that ‘Untitled Goose Game’ is perfect, however. At times it feels more like a tech demo or browser game than a fully fleshed out retail purchase, which can make the €19.99 price tag (on offer for €14.99 until 4 October) feel a little rich.
A normal playthrough might take 2-6 hours to complete, depending on how many objectives you want to go through, so don’t go in expecting a long goose odyssey. But if you feel like you’ve been playing a few too many games that force you to play as a sociopath, ‘Untitled Goose Game’ is the antidote.
Then again… maybe that goose is a sociopath? Honk.