Geese are the chaotic evil of birds. Their existence revolves around being annoyed at anything standing within a 20-feet radius of their awful, hissing faces, treating every nearby living thing as though its presence is a personal affront. As such, they make for an unlikely video game protagonist. Yet that’s exactly what developer House House has attempted with Untitled Goose Game, an unlikely stealth game featuring nature’s greatest anti-hero as its star.
Placing players in the webbed feet of a particularly obnoxious goose, your objectives revolve around pestering the local populace of a small British village, causing as much disruption as possible. You will be tasked with locking a boy in a phone box and pushing an old man’s chair from under him as he’s about to sit down. This neighborhood doesn’t like this goose, and it’s your job to remind them of that fact.
Unlike other stealth games, it isn’t time to go all-guns-blazing whenever you’re spotted; don’t expect these quaint villagers to pull a pistol out on you if they catch you stealing a broom. Instead, you’ll be shooed away, and whatever mess you’ve created will be promptly rectified.
This means that there’s no definitive ‘game over’ in Untitled Goose Game. You’re free to continue pestering the villagers, even if they’ve clocked onto what you’re trying to do. Some locals will be more aggressive than others, chasing you reasonable distances to ensure that you’ve left the premises, though you can usually continue to wreak havoc as long as you’re just out of view.
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The AI is simple-minded, with their incompetence being played for laughs. They each follow a pattern, with you able to see their next goal pop up in a thought bubble above their head. The game takes place on one map, which is divided into several areas that contain a new list of objectives you to complete. When you’ve completed those objectives, you can waddle through a newly unlocked gate to the next area.
Each area contains its own objectives, though there is also a general to-do list that encompasses all areas. There are also post-game objectives you’ll be given after the credits roll, with you then able to wander through the entire map at your leisure.
Objectives are kept reasonably vague; you’re tasked with making a groundskeeper wear a sun hat, for instance, yet you don’t receive the details on how to achieve that. Some have obvious solutions, while others require you to think more creatively, such as hopping into an empty box in order to be carried into a pub by a delivery woman.
Unfortunately, many objectives have solutions that are too simple to decipher. Some are basically busywork, with you having to transport an item from one location to the other. As the villagers aren’t particularly intelligent, stealing items from them isn’t exactly difficult, and I rarely felt challenged by Untitled Goose Game‘s tasks.
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The game is at its best when you’re hassling its NPCs. Waiting for a man to sip his cup of tea, then honking at the last minute to ensure he douses himself with the hot drink, epitomizes its sense of humor. You’re basically inflicting minor cruelty on people, with it playing out like a slapstick comedy.
Its expressive villagers help sell this cruelty. Despite being faceless, their frustrations are made clear by their over-the-top body language. They’ll stare at you with their hands on their hips when you’re ticking them off, or hurriedly storm after you when you’ve picked up something you shouldn’t have. The goose is also adorably animated, with its perfect waddle contradicting its inherent evilness. It’s all wrapped up in a lovely pastel art style, reminiscent of House House’s previous game, Push Me Pull You.
However, when you’re just focusing on carrying out the objectives and not pestering the villagers, Untitled Goose Game revolves around basic, uninteresting stealth mechanics. When House House leans into the absurdity of its concept, such as asking you to pretend to be a statue of a goose to fool a villager, it’s hilarious. When you’re dragging multiple cabbages over to a picnic blanket… not so much.
It doesn’t help that just when you’ve completed the game’s most challenging and funny objective, it’s over. Its unexpected ending got a genuine belly laugh from out of me, with it providing perfect context to the events leading up to it. But as it provided a perfect balance between difficulty and humor, I would have liked to have seen more challenges like it rather than the basic tasks that over-populated its lists of objectives.
Untitled Goose Game Review | The Final Verdict
While Untitled Goose Game is a short experience, this also means that it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Additional objectives after you’ve completed the main game increase replayability, even if these objectives could stand to be more challenging. And while its stealth is basic, if you’re content with running around as an arrogant goose and scaring people with your loud honks, then it delivers that in spades.