Image Credit: House House
The release of House House’s Untitled Goose Game last month took certain parts of the internet by storm. The reviews are in, and people seem to be enjoying it. However, here at the UK’s leading goose-related university, we are above such wishy-washy, subjective questions as “is it fun?” or “is it worth the money?” We will be evaluating the game on the purely objective grounds of Goose Realism.
To begin with, it should be noted that the untitled goose you play as – no name is given in the game, so for the purposes of this review I shall call it “Entitled Goose” – is clearly a domesticated goose, unlike the wild waterfowl found around the university, evidenced by its pure white colour and reluctance to take flight. The idea that Entitled Goose has escaped from captivity and is now out for revenge against its former masters paints it as a somewhat sympathetic antihero, but don’t worry: the veil of righteousness will quickly slip, and your actions will betray your true nature. You are, as the game’s tagline dictates, a horrible goose.
If there was one gameplay feature I would have expected from a game about being a goose, it would have been the ability to sit right in the middle of a busy pedestrian walkway and watch with imperious satisfaction as all the foolish humans tentatively made their cautious ways around me. Unfortunately, this crucial feature is one that Untitled Goose Game conspicuously lacks. Though Entitled Goose is equipped with realistic honking and wing-flapping functionality, sitting down appears to be beyond its capabilities. Worse, the humans of the village – again, no name is given, so from now on I’ll call it “Untitled Village” – do not treat Entitled Goose with due respect when you get in the way, either rudely barging you out of their path, or at best, waiting with patient annoyance, hands on hips, until you move.
Also lacking, and dealing a similarly significant blow to immersion, is the ability to cover Untitled Village with your excrement. There are few things more goose-like than staring down a bothersome human child as you lay claim to their play area. Unfortunately, in choosing to keep the age rating as inclusive as possible, House House was unable to deliver the realistic goose experience you may have been hoping for.
There are other ways to bully children, though, and it’s in bullying humans – and more broadly, just being a general pest – that Untitled Goose Game really shines. Whether you’re trapping a child in a phone box, or simply borrowing a few cabbages for a pleasant picnic by the lake, there are plenty of opportunities to make a nuisance of yourself, and enemies of the townsfolk. Entitled Goose may not be gaming's most realistic depiction of a goose, but it excels at displaying the attitude of haughty malevolence and careless entitlement that form the core of the goose experience.
Students will also be pleased to know that dumping traffic cones in the lake is no problem for Entitled Goose. In fact, Untitled Goose Game works well as a risk-free lake dumping simulator, and is a good alternative to the campus lake, which is currently approaching traffic cone saturation.
Overall, though, while Untitled Goose Game provides an engaging and entertaining experience that is at least goose-approximate, it fails to deliver on several core aspects of goose realism, and we are therefore unable to award it any more than two geese out of a possible five geese.