Hitbox Review: Untitled Goose Game — Goose on the loose

Graphic by Michaeline Collins.

Why be a human when you can be a goose?

One of the goose’s tasks on each list is to collect several items in the area and place them in one location. Screenshot courtesy of IGDB.

Developer: House House

Initial release date: Sept. 20, 2019

Platforms: PC [played], Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Price: $19.99

Untitled Goose Game certainly has one of the most unique premises I’ve ever heard of for a video game. The player controls a mischief-making goose who rampages through a small, picturesque village. The goose causes mayhem for everyone, from a farmer to the waitress of a pub. The player must waddle, honk and steal their way through a list of tasks.

The tasks sound simple enough at first, like breaking a broom. However, the way the tasks are accomplished is sometimes difficult to determine. In this case, the player has to engage in a tug-of-war with the broom-wielding shop owner until the head of the broom falls off. It’s difficult to imagine how I would’ve figured that solution out without a guide, since I don’t usually question the construction quality of brooms in video games. If the broom looked old and decrepit, that might’ve been a subtle enough hint. However, since Untitled Goose Game’s art style is so minimalistic, it just looked like a regular broom to me.

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Despite the broom confusion, I think Untitled Goose Game’s art style works in its favor. It’s simple enough that there’s never any confusion about what the goose can pick up, but detailed enough that the player can still tell the difference between a teacup and a teapot or a cucumber and a leek.

The goose is always watching and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Screenshot courtesy of IGDB.

Curiously, the villagers in the game don’t have eyes, which forces the player to imagine the expressions they would be making. The player is assisted by the expressive body gestures the villagers make whenever the goose ruins their day.

Each of the villagers has their own personality and will react to the goose in different ways. A boy wearing glasses, which is odd considering he doesn’t have eyes, scares easily and runs away every time the goose honks at him. There is also a burly man at the entrance of a pub who chases the goose out of the area if he sees it.

The reactive piano music whenever the goose picks up an object also helps to set the playful atmospheric tone of Untitled Goose Game. Sure, the goose is a menace, but it’s not trying to destroy anyone’s life.

The list of tasks to complete is the only part of Untitled Goose Game that I can objectively take issue with. Checking tasks off a list is the most boring way to present the player with an objective. The cursive font and notebook paper are kind of charming at first, though. I imagine that the goose wrote all of the ways it thought of to mess with the villagers the same way we would make a grocery list. Having a narrative justification for the tasks would’ve been more compelling, but since Untitled Goose Game is so limited in scope, it’s hard to think of anything it could do differently.

Like breaking the broom, a few of the tasks were equally difficult to determine how to accomplish them. Another task that I had trouble with was making someone buy back their own items. This task seemed to have multiple different solutions, but still required multiple obscure steps to complete.

Because of this, I found myself in a routine, where I would spend 30 minutes in an area exploring, hassling residents and honking to my heart’s content. After that, I would have about half or three-fourths of the list of tasks completed and had no idea how to complete the rest. So, I would refer to a guide to help complete them.

I’m choosing my words very carefully here. Untitled Goose Game is fine for a couple of hours of amusement, but might not be the sandbox that some desire. As it turns out, Untitled Goose Game is a puzzle game, so if you’re not a patient person, I suggest following my routine. In the three hours it took to beat, I only had about an hour of mildly amusing goose antics. Thankfully, I bought it for 50% off during a sale, which is what I suggest everyone else does if you’re still interested in playing it after reading this review.