Untitled Goose Game review | Honk if you like avian stealth

Driving everyone quackers. Wait, no: ‘honkers’. Here’s our review of the feathery puzzler, Untitled Goose Game.


 

Some games just honk right in your face and demand you have a gander, and Untitled Goose Game hit its stride both pre- and post-launch with a two-pronged attack. First, by looking rather spiffy. Second, by setting sections of the internet ablaze with frothy-mouthed praise for this mixture of stealth, puzzling, and mischief. If I were to describe it as Hitman, but with a goose, I’d be a liar – but you’d have a better idea of what’s going on here.

Untitled Goose Game has you controlling a goose, see, on its way to do something – yes, I am avoiding spoilers in a game about a goose. Along the way, you encounter various obstacles which require you hassle and harass the local populace of an idyllic British countryside village to circumvent. Steal a gardener’s rake, lock a child in a phone box, appear on television, that kind of thing. It’s objective-based mischief requiring you figure out just how to make things happen.

And that’s… fun? Fun, I guess. I’m not wholly sold on Untitled Goose Game, but more on that in a second. When you pick this up for the first time, it’s hard not to be beaming from ear to ear as you waddle around honking like a goose possessed, nicking carrots and throwing rakes in lakes. Messing with people – irritating them – is funny, and there’s a palpable sense of being naughty while you’re toying with the emotions of these non-honking bipedal apes. It’s uplifting, silly, and initially very appealing. But the feeling wears off.

Untitled Goose Game’s main problem comes about because it’s a puzzle game that has puzzles you don’t always feel smart for having solved. Vague clues often lead to just trying anything and seeing what happens – that’s very much in the spirit of the game, absolutely, but it doesn’t make for a satisfying experience over the long run. A goose causing chaos in Middle England is inherently funny. Adding a layer of defined goals on top of that chaos is necessary to make this more than just a Goat Simulator. But the balance isn’t quite there, and too often I was left sneering at the game for its vague logical paths, rather than delighting in a gorgeous honkfest.

That said, Untitled Goose Game doesn’t outstay its welcome, and as such this lack of development as things progress is limited, thanks to the fact the amount of game there is to play is limited. Speedrunners are already blasting through in minutes, while us regular people will take a couple of hours to get through the main chunk of game – there’s extra mischief to honk your way through after the fact, too.

I can see why the internet has (in part) come unglued for Untitled Goose Game – it’s characterful, funny, and gorgeous; it captures a part of British life few other games have even bothered trying to represent. Stripped back to its mechanics, though, it’s limited and – importantly – not that much fun.

Highlight

For all its less-than-serious attitude, Untitled Goose Game is home to a seriously characterful goose. This little honker waddles with purpose, flaps its wings in a non-threatening could-be threat, and honks to the beat of your thumb. I might not be entirely sold on the game, but I do want more of the goose.

Verdict

Excellently presented and brimming with charisma, Untitled Goose Game is nonetheless let down by the trudgery of its puzzles.

62%

Genre: Honkin’ puzzler
Format: PC (tested) / Switch
Developer: House House
Publisher: Panic Inc.
Price: £17.99
Release: Out now

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