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Untitled Goose Game (Switch) artwork

Untitled Goose Game (Switch) review

"Honk if you love geese."

Untitled Goose Game is an action/puzzle game about a mean-spirited goose on a mission that isn't made entirely clear until just before the credits roll. Players control the cantankerous fowl as it explores a peaceful village marked by gardens, marketplace stalls and an outdoor pub, all the while finding new ways to be a nuisance to the pesky humans who reside there. As those who have dealt with the birds will tell you, it's a bit of a life simulator.

The game begins by briefly introducing you to the controls, which are basic but sufficient for the tasks at hand. You can lower your head while running to pass underneath low overhead barriers, peck and grab with your beak, spread your wings menacingly and (most importantly) press Y to honk. This last action produces noise that will attract the attention when desired, or just allow you to vent your rage.

Untitled Goose Game (Switch) image

Stages are inter-linked, in that you can clear a few objectives and then move onto the next zone through a newly opened door or alleyway or such. Pressing the '-' button at any time brings up your list of local objectives. You might need to lock a boy in a phone booth, for instance, or engineer a tumble for an old man so he falls on his bum. For the most part, the tasks are outlined clearly enough that you should have a general idea what to do (especially after experimentation and a little exploration), but there are some that feel a bit too vague to be useful. The worst offender (for me) was one that asked me to drop a bucket on a burly man's head. I found the bucket, perched on a wall. I could knock it down easily enough, as well. But I couldn't hit any target even when I lured workers to the spot with pilfered flatware, a cork and a pepper shaker. It turns out I was trying to target the wrong individual.

Though it is by no means a conventional one, Untilted Goose Game is very clearly a puzzle title at heart. You solve a few challenges and move onto the next area, then do something similar all over again. The process is made delightful by its charming visual style, which include eyeless villagers who manage to be plenty expressive even without peepers. I think my favorite victim is the old man who is just trying to relax and read a newspaper in his garden. I stole his slippers, because I was feeling very goose-like. He retrieved them from where I had dropped them in a small pool, grumpily trudged back to his table and had some tea. I couldn't break his spirit.

Untitled Goose Game (Switch) image

The stakes are pretty low throughout the whole adventure, which is part of the appeal. I didn't find a way to "die," and even failure was only temporary. If you break all of the glasses available in the pub while you're trying to steal one and drop it in the canal to satisfy an objective, more will magically appear. If you drop that bucket I mentioned and it misses the target, someone will prop it back up on the wall. And if you run across people who don't welcome your presence--which is most of them--you don't have to worry about more than being brushed out of their way or perhaps out of the area where you need to operate. Then you can sneak inside again. I suspect kids will have as much fun with all of that as adults will, though the objectives are presented in cursive lettering so they may require assistance from an adult to understand what is expected of them.

One thing I should also mention is that the game does include some stealth elements. I never love those, but the good news is that here you never have to sneak for long and it's all expertly presented to fit the soothing vibe. Sometimes the camera wouldn't let me see where a particularly hostile human was in relation to me, but that was rarely an issue because even when I was spotted, I could duck under a table and plot my next move while they looked around with a "?" over their head and finally went back to whatever they had been doing. I felt more empowered than frustrated, which is a first.

Untitled Goose Game (Switch) image

Untitled Goose Game also includes an assortment of post-game challenges, in the form of optional additional objectives you can complete when you revisit the various zones. This is ideal, since the proper campaign can be cleared pretty easily in probably as little as an hour or two, unless you happen to get stuck for a bit like I sometimes did. Some optional objectives can be cleared along the way by accident as you get creative about the mayhem you cause, but others will likely require some dedication on the player's part because they introduce a time component. There's nothing that should prove excessively demanding, however. A few more unique areas would have suited me fine, especially given the asking price, but it's hard to knock what is already provided.

In this era of match-3 and stacking puzzle games, developers seem largely to have lost the desire or ability to implement genuinely new ideas. Untitled Goose Game is a charming exception to that rule, a reminder that there's still plenty of new stuff to do within the genre when a team comes up with an interesting idea and runs with it. I never knew how badly I wanted to wreak havoc as a winged creature until I played this game, and now I feel sorry for the years I spent without that particular brand of joy in my life. Definitely consider a purchase today if you think there's any possibility you might wind up feeling similarly.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (September 21, 2019)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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jerec posted September 21, 2019:

Good review, it does seem to echo what I've been hearing about this game (which I have wanted ever since I first saw the trailer). Geese are cantankerous birds, and I love them.
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honestgamer posted September 21, 2019:

Thanks for reading. And with a response like that, I think you should probably take my advice at the end and buy the game. I bet you'll enjoy it!
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jerec posted September 21, 2019:

I'm definitely getting it. It's on special at the moment. My supermarket has 10% off Nintendo e-shop cards next week, so I gotta wait a bit.

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