Untitled Goose Game Brings Slapstick Comedy Back to Video Games
October 22, 2019 | By Norman Zeng, Illustrations by Lauren Aquino
The description for Untitled Goose Game says it all: “It's a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose.” What more do you need from a video game?
Untitled Goose Game, developed by House House and available on the Nintendo Switch and Epic Games for PC and Mac, is such a refreshing new take on comedy in video games. While we are swamped with such remakes, remasters, and revivals in pop culture, Untitled Goose Game offers an original take on video game mechanics, storytelling, and comedy. It’s a charming little game that leaves players wanting more wacky adventures and allows them to memorize every little nook and cranny of the world the game created.
Illustrations by Lauren Aquino
Untitled Goose Game is pretty simple in its premise. You control a goose in a rural English town, fulfilling a checklist of psychopathic tasks and making hell for the villagers as they try desperately to keep their surroundings neat and organized. The humor in the game stems from the non-confrontational attitudes of English manners clashing against the prim and proper wishes of the residents. Each one of the people users interact with reacts differently toward the goose, ranging from adoration to aggression, from annoyance to fear. They each have their own goals, paths, and tasks to repeat, and once the player understands all of those mechanics, they can play the whole village like a fiddle, controlling them with various honks, waddles, and flaps.
The game feels like the fully realized child of simulator games of the early and mid-2010s such as Goat Simulator, Surgeon Simulator, and others of the like. The similarities between those games and Untitled Goose Game are their focus on slapstick comedy and humor driving their game-play. The major difference, however, is that instead of relying on glitches and annoying mechanism, Untitled Goose Game is a finalized game: one with polished mechanics, a narrative, and challenges. The subtleties really enhance the experience for the player in a way that early simulator games never really focused on.
Illustrations by Lauren Aquino
Besides the game-play of Untitled Goose Game, the attention to detail in the animation and sound design are on a new level. There are many small animation details for the goose such, as its waddle, sound design nuances, like the differences in honks if the player is holding a bottle or harmonica, and the unique AI of the villagers that bring life to the game.
However, by far the best part of the game is the soundtrack. Its soft piano melodies accentuates the actions of the player. As the player starts out exploring the world and its possibilities, the piano is sporadically used, followed by the detailed sound design of waddles and webbed feet slaps. As the player starts unfolding their plan of annoyance and destruction, the melody builds up. Finally, once the player understands how to control the game, the piano melody ramps up to a crescendo just as the game reaches its climax. It perfectly mimics the mood and is used to elevate the humor throughout.
Untitled Goose Game is, truly, an incredibly well-made game. It’s simple enough to understand yet masterful in its design, and it is sure to be remembered for a long time. If you find yourself free for a couple of hours, I suggest you get Untitled Goose Game and play it for yourself!