Over the past few weeks, plenty of people I follow on Twitter have been raving around Untitled Goose Game, an indie game developed by House House. I decided to download it to my Nintendo Switch (the game is also available for Windows and macOS) and play it this past weekend, and now I can see what all the fuss is about. House House has made an utterly delightful, lighthearted bit of chaos that keeps things simple while still being a blast from start to finish with its easy charm and low stakes.
The closest companion I can think of to Untitled Goose Game is the Hitman franchise where you’re assigned various tasks, but instead of murders, it’s mischief. You play as a goose in a middle-class English village and you’re given a task list that includes items like making a gardener bash his thumb with a hammer or swiping items for a picnic. You can drag items, honk, and flap your wings, and that’s about it, and yet House House gets a lot of fun out this simple premise. What makes the game even better is that there’s no “failure.” You can’t die, and if you get too close to a human, they just shoo you away and you go back and try again. It’s pretty much a puzzle game where you try to figure out how to complete your tasks, and all of your tasks are making life miserable for British people.
The breezy tone and playful palette create the perfect atmosphere for these kind of antics, and I was surprise at how the game never lost my attention at the various tasks I had to perform. The gameplay is smooth and confident with the only hiccups coming when you grab the wrong item, which happens so rarely that it’s a stretch to call it a problem. Because the controls are so simple, the gameplay is instantly inviting, and you go through different parts of the village with different tasks. While other games try to load you up with new abilities to try and deepen the gameplay, Untitled Goose Game gives you pulling, honking, and flapping. That’s it, and it works beautifully.
This kind of controlled chaos is the perfect reprieve from the world. It’s the game we need right now. While violent games have their place and the games-as-a-service model ensures that you stick with Destiny 2 or Fortnite or what-have-you, Untitled Goose Game goes against the grain to offer a short-but-sweet experience of joyous escapism where the world isn’t at stake, you don’t need to worry about if other players are getting better than you, and you don’t have to dump money into loot boxes. You’re a goose. You cause mischief. It’s brilliant in its simplicity, and playing it for a couple hours this weekend on my sofa was a highlight of my weekend.