“Huh. Am I playing a goose or a cat?” That’s what I asked myself as I stole hats, locked humans in tight spaces, and broke a fancy vase in House House’s popular Untitled Goose Game.
The player character is a goose with a to-do list that guides us through various hijinks, all of which are a great annoyance to the people living in this small town. Controls are simple: you can run, grab things, and honk to surprise humans or call attention to yourself. The goal is to complete items on the to-do list to move on to the next stage.
Each area of the game (the garden, the high street, etc.) is a self-contained stage, but as each new one is unlocked, you can roam freely between them. The game “ends” with a rather clever escape through the entire village back to the starting point. However, you can keep playing after the credits roll, thanks to the reveal of new lists with new goals.
Now, these list items are not only funny, but serve as puzzles. How do I get the gardener to put on his straw hat? The puzzles grow a tad more complex after the credits, when new activities are added, most of which require interaction between the different stages. As such, solving them grants even more satisfaction. It took me a while to figure out how I could get thrown over the fence; I grinned when I discovered the solution. Good puzzles make us feel smart.
On the surface, this game seems to be about annoying humans and making their lives hell. It appears to lean into the “geese are assholes” stereotype. But if I switched the goose with a cat, would anyone notice the difference? Cats like myself are often accused of stealing precious possessions, sneaking into places they’re not wanted, and just being generally destructive. I remember a cat-simulator type of game that was about causing as much mayhem as possible in a given room.
As I thought about these similarities, it hit me: Untitled Goose Game is about prejudice. These is this sweet, little goose, just trying to go about its day, but humans keep getting in the way and chasing it off. The fact that so many players assume the animal is being bad exposes their prejudice toward us. We just want to check items off our lists.
For that revelatory experience or for the simple sake of having fun trapping a boy in a phone booth, give Untitled Goose Game a whirl. It only takes two to four hours to complete and it will leave you a better human for it.
Final rating: Three vases and a golden bell
⚱️⚱️⚱️ + 🔔