Sat. Sep 24th, 2022
Screenshot Untitled Goose Game
enlarge *record scratch* *freeze frame* Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation… of a grumpy, honking goose.

ok! The tall man grabbed a broom! PLEASE!

No, no, no, no, no, run away, run away! I’m going to lift up my worthless wings (curse these licentious things) and trot away, trot trot trot. Don’t wipe me ma’am…

OKAY. Oof. Gosh, in the madness of running away, I forgot I have her root. It’s in my mouth.

Why do I have her root? I just saw it and picked it up. That was easy. That was fun.

Hi, I’m a goose, and this is my story

Maybe I should rewind a bit. After all, I have the brain of a goose. How big is a goose brain? I don’t know.

I woke up a while ago in a quiet field. Green grass, some boulders, some trees. I shook my head from my nap, peeked out of a bush and started exploring. That immediately felt good. (And it looked beautiful too. I took some pictures. Don’t ask me how.) I saw a tree trunk and I heard a voice telling me how to drop my neck to go under it. That was easy. Then I saw a can, and I got the sneaky feeling that I had to bend down again and pick it up with my beak, which was nice too.

Then I saw a gate, but it was screwed shut. hmm. I found myself having to bend my head to pull a pole into the grass, then lift my head to yank another pole. Sound, chat. Open!

… haha. I said “duck”. That’s a bird joke.

After waddling through the open gate, I heard the rustle of notebooks and realized I had a list. Maybe it was under one of these crappy wings the whole time. Someone wrote on it in nice cursive handwriting. Was it another goose?

I don’t really have a sense of time, “health” or boundaries here. Those giant people sweeping at me with their hands or (uh, the horror) a broom? They push me away, but I can always waddle back.

I can also take my time and ignore the list, but it’s comforting to refer to. It gives me a purpose. Sometimes it tells me to do something simple: pick up something and drag it somewhere else. These little things always seem to annoy people. Why do I have to be annoying? I don’t know why my list is asking me to annoy everyone. My first list suggested I drag a farm rake into a lake. “Rake in the lake,” ha! honk! I laughed. I dragged the rake far enough, dropped it into the water, and smiled again.

But other things on the list are not so clear. At one point I am asked to make the farmer “wear a sun hat”. I see the farmer, who is wearing a very small hat, and I see the sun hat, which is completely out of my reach. Curse these flying wings.

What else can I do? Think, goose brain, think. After scratching some simpler tasks off the list, I notice that when I pick a rose from the farmer’s yard, he keeps bending over to replant the rose. honk! That is it! I can reach the hat when it bends down, so I do, run to some bushes and hide by lowering my neck. I am a chameleon. He can’t find me here.

That is a lie. I’m a goose. But the farmer still can’t find me, so he covers his bald head with the sun hat. I hear a “sweep” sound of a pencil dragging across my frame. Good luck.

we talk about Neighborhood of Mr. Rogers

Untitled Goose Game launch trailer.

Whenever a page on my list is mostly filled, a single “final” task appears. (If I get stuck or can’t complete any of the original tasks on a list, that’s okay. Something in this strange universe gives me some wiggle room.) Completing this “special” task on any list opens a new door to a new one. town square, or people gathering, or some other very non-goose zone. I also get another list of tasks, and they’re all typically annoying too. My brain is weak, but I can read the room: whatever I’m doing here, it’s not your typical goosebumps.

While I’m doing all this, I hear music. When I see people doing their routines, there’s a floating piano melody in the background, as if I should notice what they’re doing. And when I alarm someone, the piano song sounds a little scarier, like something’s about to happen. I’ve always resented my mom for not encouraging my artistic side when I was a gosling. I could have been good at piano, Mama Goose. But I especially like these little piano melodies. They spur me on, like something out of one of those kids’ TV shows I’ve heard of.

That’s what I keep coming back to in my goose brain: this all feels very erratic. Being a goose isn’t all it’s about. It’s not something from these video games that people play where you can honk, act silly or fake like, I don’t know, a goat or a ceramic mug. People are pretty lucky.

The good:

  • You won’t find more sheer whimsy in a 2019 game.
  • Puzzles strike a wonderful balance between tricky and fair, letting players reset and try again in a “Super meat boy meets point-and-click puzzlers” way; we’ve really never seen anything like it.
  • House House’s knack for vibrant, cel-shaded characters look great in action and are nothing like cheap Flash animation (meaning, don’t be fooled by the screenshots, which already look colorful and inviting).
  • Special buttons to honk (which affects the game) and flap your wings (which they don’t).

The bad:

  • Untitled Goose Game ends relatively quickly. But even that isn’t too bad, as the game achieves what it’s supposed to in terms of puzzle variety and pitch-perfect annoyance from the people in just five hours.

The Ugly:

  • I have yet to find a hidden level where the hero takes revenge on the foie gras industry which would have been nice.

verdict: Honk! Ahem, I mean, buy.

List image by Zulio / Flickr

By akfire1

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