It’s the goose’s world. We just live in it. And what the goose wants? The goose gets. As one player recently demonstrated, it’s just a matter of time.
YouTuber TerakJK decided to embark on a quest to collect every item in Untitled Goose Game, and it took seven hours for them to mostly succeed. They dragged all of these items to the goose’s “home” in the game’s starting area and then attempted to cram them into the pit where [ENDGAME SPOILERS REDACTED] happens.
Despite the righteous purity of the goose’s mission, TerakJK did encounter some complications along the way. There’s a pretty enormous number of items in the goose’s town-shaped playground, some which it can easily carry in its mighty, muscular beak and others it has to drag slowly. Townsfolk do not love it when the goose does this and, as people are prone to do with wild geese, give chase.
As a result, the video was filmed sans two items TerakJK forgot to nab at the time—the gardener’s hat and the hammer—and two mugs that the delivery woman in the game’s tavern area broke. Also, they were unable to fit every item in the pit because it’s surrounded by invisible walls.
Still, it’s definitely an accomplishment. We now have no choice but to bow down before the goose, who has all the things, while we have none.
I mean, I admire the passion! But you’re not thinking this through, for a number of reasons:
1) Pump your brakes. The internet can jump so hard and fast on things that it can squeeze all the joy out of them. Let the Goose breathe a little! The Goose is good and fun, but Untitled Goose Game is also a multiplatform release that’s been out for a week.
3) If you must ask the internet for the Goose to appear in Nintendo games, maybe Mario Kart or Mario Party are more appropriate? This may slightly undermine my above point, since they are both games that deviate from Goose Game’s core design, but they are also games for petty assholes, and the Goose is an asshole first and foremost.
4) You’re not thinking big enough! Asking for the Goose to appear in Smash is a reflex action, understandably born of a desire to see more Goose x Nintendo interaction, but we live in an age where Nintendo is letting Western developers get wild with its own IP (see Cadence of Hyrule).
I don’t want to see the Goose in Smash. I’ve constructed this entire post as an excuse to say I want the opposite. I want developers House House to be handed the keys to a Nintendo world/character and given the chance to work their magic with it.
Here’s my unsolicited pitch: Imagine the hijinx of Untitled Goose Game…but it’s Waluigi, who now has the Mushroom Kingdom equivalent of a YouTube channel, and he’s lurking around pranking Mario and Luigi and Peach and Toad and everyone else, ruining their days, wrecking their shit.
Imagine his goofy big legs trying to sneak through Luigi’s house, putting a bucket of water over a doorframe then rubbing his hands with glee as he saunters out the back door. Imagine hiding in the bushes as Toad walks past, carefully balancing a tray of birthday cupcakes, and at the perfect moment pressing a button not to HONK, but to WAAAAAAAAAAAAA. The cupcakes go flying, Toad shrieks, then cries, Waluigi jogs off twirling his mustache, laughing his ass off.
It would be the best. And everyone could stop asking for Walugi to be put in Smash because they’d realize that, like the Goose, he doesn’t need to be. He’d have his own place to shine.
For most of our lives, we’ve all been ordinary people, content to live ordinary lives and maintain a functional social order. Then, last Friday, Untitled Goose Game came out. Now we are all the goose, a feathered hellion who believes property is theft, and theft of property is good as hell as long as the person doing it is a goose. Our eyes have been opened, our perceptions transformed. Here’s what people are doing as part of the new Goose World Order.
It hasn’t even been a week since Untitled Goose Game came out, but the internet is already aflood with in-game accomplishments that I, even after reviewing the game, didn’t know were possible, as well as tributes to the waddling embodiment of chaos we all now aspire to be. Behold:
The following contains spoilers for Untitled Goose Game.
Untitled Goose Game, the new Switch and PC/Mac title from the developers at House House, is a good environmental puzzle game about a bad goose. You play as the goose, and your mission is to terrorize a small village by—for lack of a better term—being a huge asshole. You throw their clothes into a fountain when they’re not looking, you use the dedicated honk button to scare them into dropping and breaking glassware, and you orchestrate miniature disasters that cause very minor property damage—all by just doing the things that a particularly cruel goose would do. To be fair, though, the vast majority of the people you encounter in the game are no better than the goose, with most of them rudely shoving you away even when you’re not doing anything mischievous. Really, they’re all jerks and they deserve to have their lives briefly thrown into disarray.
That’s how things stand for most of Untitled Goose Game’s relatively brief runtime, at least up until its penultimate level (the game is sort of an open world, but you get specific puzzle-like tasks to complete in each area). After going through a garden and some yards, the goose arrives at a small pub with an outdoor seating area. The first task here is to get past a particularly overzealous anti-goose guard, and the game gives you a hint on how to do this by adopting an iconic piece of equipment from the stealth genre: a cardboard box. Whether it’s an intentional nod to Metal Gear Solid or not, the game is clearly indicating that—while it may have been a puzzle game before—this is now a sneaking mission.
Stealth was an important component of the previous levels, but most of them were big enough that you could run away from the townsfolk or stash the items you were trying to steal far enough away from them without getting caught. The pub, though, is a much more confined space with a lot more people to keep track of—any one of whom may notice that something is out of place and disrupt your attempt to, say, set a little table by stealing a plate, a knife, a fork, a pepper grinder, and a candle (one of the actual tasks in the area). To make this easier, Untitled Goose Game evenpicks up another hallmark of the stealth genre by having crawlspaces that go under the pub’s patio and instantly confound any pursuers, much like an air vent would in a traditional stealth game.
It uses a visual language that players may already be familiar with from outside of Untitled Goose Game in order to show them how to adapt the goose skills they’ve already developed for a slightly more difficult challenge. It’s a very clever sequence, but Untitled Goose Game doesn’t stop there. For as well-designed as the pub is, everything after that is a wonderful twist on the rules that Untitled Goose Game has established up until that point. After the pub, the goose goes to a model village that is a miniature replica of the very town you’re in, and some of the tiny figurines and recognizable landmarks from earlier in the game can be grabbed and ripped apart.
There are no guards or challenges here, but the game is doing two more smart things. The first is that it’s giving the player a chance to let loose and fuck up the town in a very direct way as a cathartic reward for having done well enough to reach the final area. The second is that it’s reminding the player of the path they took to get here, which is important for the game’s final challenge: retrieve a golden bell from the model village and carry it all the way back to where you started the game. That means going backward through each of the previous areas, keeping in mind how you were able to do it the first time and thinking quickly to figure out how to get past new obstacles that have been placed, all with the added challenge of the bell in your beak. If you move your neck too much or use that wonderful honk button, the bell will ring and summon any nearby townsfolk—all of whom are very invested in getting their bell back.
Here, the entirety of Untitled Goose Game reveals itself to be a brilliant piece of game design. Every single thing you’ve done up until grabbing the bell has been a lesson, and you have to keep all of it in mind in order to make your way back through the village. Each person presents a new challenge that is informed by their original challenge, whether it’s as straightforward as knowing how to pass through someone’s yard without getting caught or as complex as knowing which specific item to hide in order to get a man’s attention and divert him away from the only exit.
The initial puzzles, while very charming and entertaining (mostly thanks to the goose’s animation and the way the music ramps up when the goose is in trouble), are all a bit simplistic. The game gives you a vague instruction to do a thing, you watch the people in that area to see how they interact with their specific surroundings, and then you do the thing. Taken as a whole, though, each of these puzzles fit together in the final mission and work to create a thoughtful stealth challenge that elegantly ties up the whole experience in a nice bow.
What do you do when a goose is on the loose? Your best bet, according to Untitled Goose Game, is to try and go about your daily business despite the knowledge that society’s rickety scaffolding will soon crumble in the wake of that most foul of fowl. But what if that goose can defy the laws of physics and fences alike? Then, my friend, you are well and truly doomed.
Because it is the year 2019, people are already turning in record-shattering speedruns of Untitled Goose Game, which just came out last Friday. The current world record belongs to Seji, a French player who managed to beat the sociopathic bird game in just three minutes and 46 seconds. For comparison’s sake, it took me two and a half hours. So, how’d he do it? Simple: by showing a total and utter lack of regard for fences.
All throughout the run, Seji physics-glitches his way through select fences, bypassing multiple major chunks of the game in the process. As a result, he doesn’t need to complete any actual objectives in the garden area and skips the neighborhood and backyard areas entirely. He then glitches past the tavern as well and immediately enters the game’s final sequence. From there, it’s literally smooth sailing, largely because he uses another fence glitch to sail down a river he shouldn’t otherwise be able to access.
It’s impressive, though also fairly one-note. It’s also a little depressing, given that Untitled Goose Game is meant to be a canvas for the most depraved, asshole-goose-like parts of our minds. Seeing somebody speedrun it is like watching a comedian go up on stage to do a standup set, only to read through all their jokes as quickly as possible and then teleport through the ceiling. That last thing would actually be incredible, but you get what I mean.
I wouldn’t be shocked if Untitled Goose Game’s developers patched out these particular fence glitches, if only because they seem easy to access and make for fairly straightforward speedruns. Time will tell, however; developers often walk a difficult tightrope with speedrunners, attempting to both fix their games and leave favored speedrunning avenues open. The coming days and weeks will decide if these fence glitches are a bug or a feature, a duck or a goose.
Today is the long-awaited launch day of Untitled Goose Game, the avian sensation that’s been sweeping multiple nations since its first trailer came out in 2017. It’s also the day of the Global Climate Strike, meaning that people across more than 150 countries are walking out of school and work to demand urgent action in response to the rapidly intensifying effects of climate change. Despite their game’s launch, the strike was too important for Goose Game’s developers to miss.
Designer Nico Disseldorp told Kotaku today that he’s been awake for nearly 24 hours straight. That’s both because game launches are frantic sprints fueled by adrenaline, anxiety, and last-second bug fixing, and also because he and the other members of his game studio House House had a strike to attend.
“We stopped work in the middle of our video game’s launch day and went to the Global Climate Strike because we want our government and other governments around the world to take urgent action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change,” Disseldorp said in an email. “Business as usual is destroying all of our futures, and things need to change now.”
In the lead-up to Untitled Goose Game’s release, House House tweeted about the strike and mentioned it in interviews. While Disseldorp and company very much want people to enjoy their game today, they want even more to still have an inhabitable planet to live on in the coming decades. If you skip playing Goose Game today to hit the streets, that’s fine with Disseldorp.
“If striking for you means that you can’t play our video game on launch day, that’s okay,” he said. “People can play our game, or another game, some other time. The climate emergency is urgent, and needs us to drop what we are doing and demand that governments act immediately.”
The way Untitled Goose Game’s goose moves, I think, is what makes it so endearing. Its self-assured waddle. The way it leans its feathered neck forward, with an almost innocent inquisitiveness, before turning on some poor guy’s sprinklers and drenching him. How it flaps and flutters after its plans have been thwarted by a human, only to immediately compose itself and clap back with a look that says, “Actually, I’m the one who should be feeling offended after you took back the priceless vase I stole from you and was planning to shatter into a million pieces.” The goose is a piece of shit. I love the goose.
Untitled Goose Game became a phenomenon long before its release today for PC and Switch. A 2017 pre-alpha trailer, which depicted a goose messing with a groundskeeper whose blood pressure will probably never recover, tapped into something essential and primal: Geese are assholes. They’re equal parts haughty and inscrutably mean. They while away their days performing mundane acts of domestic terrorism—blocking paths, honking angrily at anyone who dares approach them, and just generally displaying a smug, unearned confidence. The power fantasy underlying Untitled Goose Game is a tantalizing if dark glimpse into the most remote recesses of the psyche. What, the game asks, if the bullied (humanity) became the bully (a lone goose)?
The result is a chill mashup of sandbox-y stealth and puzzling. You, the goose, are turned loose in a series of small town environments, including the aforementioned groundskeeper’s garden, a storefront, a tavern, and some neighbors’ backyard. Each environment seamlessly flows together, but you’ve got to complete most (though not all) objectives on a list before you can move on to the next. Objectives, you will not be shocked to learn, center around ruining people’s days.
In the sparsely populated garden, this might involve stealing the groundskeeper’s veggies or timing a honk just right so that he accidentally hammers his own thumb while trying to put up a “no geese” sign. In the more crowded tavern area, you might need to be a little stealthier, sneaking in by hopping inside a delivery person’s box and crawling around in the space beneath a patio to avoid the bouncer who doesn’t want you anywhere near the establishment’s patrons. Then, and only then, can you carry out your master plan of dropping a bucket on his head.
There’s always some amount of distraction involved. You’re a goose, after all; you’re not a subtle creature. So you honk until somebody comes over to investigate and then dart out and steal something from where they were sitting. Or you unplug somebody’s radio so that they have to dedicate their time and attention to plugging it back in. Or you steal somebody’s slippers and repeatedly drop them in a pond so they have to slowly, painstakingly retrieve them. There’s a cat-and-mouse element to these human-and-goose battles of wit and will, but at the same time, it’s not like people are going to murder you. If you mess up, they’ll just take back their stuff or push you off the premises with a broom. You can resume what you were doing quickly, so why not experiment? Or, better yet, why not seek immediate vengeance by stealing something out of somebody’s hand or chasing them into a phone booth or honking until goose cries haunt even their fondest memories?
There’s a dedicated honk button. You can honk whenever you want. It’s useful for accomplishing objectives when you need to lure somebody away from whatever otherwise idyllic task they’re trying to perform, but before long, I found myself using it to role-play. There’s this wonderful intimacy to Untitled Goose Game; if you get close enough to a person, the goose’s gaze becomes trained on them. If they notice, they stare back. Every time I pulled off some maniacal goose prank—moving somebody’s prized rose, knocking down a portion of their neighbor’s fence, getting the second person to chop the first person’s rose in half—I’d get the person to stare at me, wait a beat, and then emit a single, faux-quizzical HONK, as though unable to comprehend why they were staring at me. “You expect me to feel guilty?” it was as though I was saying (in honks). “I’m a dang goose.” Then I’d waddle away like I hadn’t definitely just spent 20 minutes meticulously orchestrating the demise of that person’s good day.
Moments like these are what make Untitled Goose Game great. The environments are nice. The objectives are generally creative and enjoyable. But the real magic of the game lies in brief, endlessly funny interactions. There’s an insidious joy in drawing out increasingly infuriated reactions from the small town’s people—all of whom are, in their own way, kinda douchey. They had it coming, I think. Or maybe I’ve come to so thoroughly inhabit the goose’s headspace that now that I have an implicit bias. I appreciate that the game’s humorous sensibility rarely tips over the ledge into outright absurdity, preferring instead to take an understated route where the punchline is almost always “Wow, that goose is kind of a dick.” You, the player—the artist of avian assholery—paint within those lines.
This low-key, easygoing vibe also makes it easier to overlook the game’s shortcomings. I wouldn’t necessarily call them flaws, but there are things that I suspect some people won’t like and that frustrated me on a few occasions. Sometimes controlling the goose is a little awkward, which I suspect is intentional. There’s an almost willful sense of momentum to the goose’s movements, like it won’t allow even the player to fully tame its wild, dickheaded impulses. Taken in conjunction with a fixed camera perspective, it caused me to run into people I was trying to avoid a handful of times. The AI is generally decent, but characters act like they have eyes on the sides—if not the backs—of their heads from time to time, which caused them to spot me when they shouldn’t have on a few occasions. While most objectives are pretty straightforward, a few either didn’t make intuitive sense until I’d racked my brain for longer than I enjoyed or pushed the AI to its limits.
Lastly, Untitled Goose Game is pretty short. I finished it in about two and a half hours, at which point I unlocked some bonus challenges, many of which I completed in another hour. Again, though, Untitled Goose Game is a sandbox in which objectives sometimes feel more like suggestions. I still want to get back in there and just mess with people more—see what happens when I get certain characters to chase me into certain areas, or if others will react to particular items. Then there’s the simple pleasure of seeing how much widespread chaos you can cause with a few well-timed honks.
Even with those things in mind, I don’t see Untitled Goose Game being as replayable as close genre relatives like (bear with me on this one) the Hitman series of stealth sandbox games. But I also don’t think it needs to be. It does not bill itself as some vast, unceasing experience, a behemoth that overstays its welcome. Rather, it’s like taking a nice walk through a sleepy town on a sunny afternoon. Except, of course, for the fact that all the characters in the game are the ones taking that walk, and you’re there to honk at them until they change their minds and decide to never go outside again.
Game delays can be as frustrating as they are necessary, and so announcing them is awkward for everyone. Developers don’t want to disappoint, gamers just want the game, ungh! If only there was a perfect way to let the world know your game was going to be late.
Oh, there is.
I’m not even mad. I blame the goose, and nobody else.