Capsule Review: Untitled Goose Game

A charming and funny stealth game with an unfortunate difficulty spike at the end.

A stealth puzzle game in which you play as a goose and wreak mischievous havoc in a charming village. The gentle cel-shaded aesthetic with incredibly expressive animation loads both the goose and the townspeople with personality and attitude with no need for dialog, and the dynamic Debussy-inspired soundtrack perfectly accentuates your antics.

As the goose, you have no special powers and can’t attack anyone. You can walk, run, lower your neck to reach low objects or sneak under barriers, extend and flap your wings, use your beak to pick up or interact with objects, and of course: honk. It’s up to you to use these abilities in the context of your environment to cause various things to happen and mess with the villagers, which some players will find hilarious and others will find horrifying.

The game is split up into several areas: a man’s garden, a small street market, two neighbors' backyards, and so on. Each area has one or more people to hassle and many objects to interact with to cause trouble. There’s plenty of room for emergent mischief, but you also have a list of several objectives to check off in each area - things like stealing particular objects or getting people to perform particular actions. Once you’ve accomplished enough of these objectives, a change will occur that allows you to move forward to the next area. There are also optional hidden objectives that are revealed after completing the main objectives in every area but which can be stumbled upon organically during normal play.

Objectives often require stealth as most humans who see you causing trouble will stop you, make you drop what you’re holding, chase you out of the area, and put whatever you stole back where it belongs. You can exploit this behavior (for example, you can distract someone by giving them several objects to put back) but it also means that - like with many stealth games - if you get caught midway through something, you often have to start over. This can get frustrating if someone finds, say, a hoard of several items you’ve collected for a particular objective and you have to wait for them to put back each individual item and then stop checking your hoard before you can try again. Similarly, some of the objectives require several interrelated steps performed in specific sequence and iteratively attempting to solve those can get slow and repetitive if you keep getting caught partway through.

I personally avoid most stealth games because I find that pattern more frustrating than fun, but I was able to enjoy most of Untitled Goose Game regardless. Most of the main objectives don’t require too many steps and punishment is unobtrusive. But there’s a significant difficulty spike in the final objective - it’s longer than previous objectives, all the shortcuts you’ve opened between areas are blocked off, every villager is on high alert, and your stealth abilities are reduced. The lack of vision cones and slightly-wonky collision detection with the villagers (who can cause you to drop things and reverse direction whether it makes visual sense or not) went from being a mild quirk to feeling like the game was cheating. I very nearly put the game down without finishing this objective, and though I powered through it left me with a bad taste and I had no interest in the optional post-game objectives.

If you’re fine with the patience required by stealth-based gameplay and you’re amused by the idea of being a horrible goose, Untitled Goose Game will be an enjoyable and likely-hilarious romp. If not, just sit back and enjoy the memes.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the main objectives and saw the credits. I did not go for the optional post-game objectives.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.