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Untitled "Untitled Goose Game" Review

It’s sometimes the most simplistic of games that bring us the biggest joys in life. In a world where there are 100+ hour campaign-filled video games coming out almost daily, we should be grateful for the titles that only take a few hours out of our time. After all, it’s these brisk small moments that might wind up staying with us much longer than the video games we spent weeks grinding through. This leads me towards Untitled Goose Game, a unique experience from Panic Inc. and House House.

Untitled Goose Game is pretty easy to sum up. You’re a goose, and you’re raising havoc on a town. No, it’s not some overpowered goose with the ability to use flamethrowers or magic spells. Players take control of a simple, run-of-the-mill waterfowl with a tendency to cause a wee bit of trouble. Via swimming, running, honking, and grabbing things with your beak, the goose must solve puzzles all at the expense of the citizens of this quiet little town.

Even before its release, Untitled Goose Game was already gaining popularity. So much so, that one would be forgiven if it would just become some sort of meme that would fade into obscurity. Fortunately, House House made sure that wouldn’t be the case, as this little adventure is chock full of great challenges and silly little tidbits. And despite the chaos you create, the end result is shockingly soothing.

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But wait! How can a game about bringing chaos to a small English town be considered relaxing? That’s simple: the tone. With its easy-on-the-eyes visuals and piano soundtrack, the overall experience that Untitled Goose Game gives you is akin to a deep sigh after your first sip of hot cocoa for the day. It’s the type of game where you can turn it on, and just walk and float about without really doing anything in particular. The Japanese have a word for such an experience: iyashikei, which means “healing.” Yes, it’s a pretty silly concept playing a goose, but the final product is shocking soothing to the soul.

However, if you’re in the mood to create some hilarious panic, then you can do that as well. Bothering farmers, stealing food & items, bully a kid into a phone booth, and even play the wind chimes or harmonica with your goose-y self are just small samplings of what you can pull of in Untitled Goose Game. Each section is split up into small areas, with each new spot opening up after completing certain tasks. When every spot has opened up, that’s when the game’s main objective finally peers its beak from underneath.

I won’t lie by saying that this is a life-changing experience, unless your dream is to be a goose. With that being said, what House House has done here is given us a solid alternative to the FPSes, open world experiences, and emotionally-draining stories that have practically been flooding the video game market these last few years. Yeah, it’s fun to pop a few caps in some bad guys, but if you had the choice between that or playing a goose that can literally pull chairs out of the way so old people fall on their bums, well, how can you not hover over to the second choice!

The one downside of Untitled Goose Game is that it is a quick experience, with the main campaign taking under three hours to complete. Thankfully, even after the credits roll, new challenges will be unlocked, giving you all the more reason to revisit that small English town. (Also, a part of me hopes that the "Untitled Beaker Game" parody from the 2019 Game Awards becomes legit as future DLC.)

PROS:

  • Adorably funny
  • Loads of challenges
  • Surprisingly relaxing

CONS:

  • Short length

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Out of all the games that let you play as a waterfowl, Untitled Goose Game is indeed the very best. It may be a short game, but it’s certainly one of the titles I will reflect deeply on when thinking of the most fun of 2019. Just like ringing a bell, Untitled Goose Game brings the simplest of joys and warmth to an entertainment realm that has desperately needed it.

FINAL GRADE:

Reviewed on the Xbox One.

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.