is a game that needs no introduction because it has no context. It is exactly what it says it is and also not at all what it says it is. It's less of a game and more of a physics arena. It's an experiment in ragdoll physics buggier than the Everglades featuring geometry as penetrable as Jell-O. It unabashedly contains "millions of bugs" according to Coffee Stain Studios, and in my time with the game I lost count of how many of those I encountered. I licked batteries, rammed pedestrians, rode a bicycle, got abducted by aliens, summoned Satan, and glided through Goatville and Goat City Bay like the Dark Knight, except I was a goat, wearing a bike helmet, and a halo, and a crown, and a pedestrian was also riding me, all at once. Goat Simulator
is a game with no narrative, no direction, and arguably no purpose. Despite -- and sometimes because of -- all of that, Goat Simulator
was fun for a while, but only a short while.
But first let me take a selfie
The start menu of the game is very telling. Before you even enter the world of Goat Simulator
, you're met with a message warning that the game will eat you alive sometimes. You'll get stuck in buildings or terrain or moving objects, and there will be no way to escape other than to pause and respawn. When you are freely moving about the game's two levels, the aforementioned Goatville and Goat City Bay, your objective is to score points Tony Hawk Pro Skater
-style by chaining together combos that can come in the form of jumping, crashing, breaking, and licking pretty much anything. Your scores are recorded on leaderboards where you can compete with other friends and gamers the world over who wondered what life would be like as a goat. This system seemed pretty irrelevant though. If leaderboards don't interest you, there's nothing else to take out of these scores. They're not attached to the achievements and I often forgot the system was even in place, despite the score increasing for nearly everything but standing still.
The real fun comes from experimentation. Discovering how different items will behave and using them in funny and often disastrous ways is the game's selling point. Fireworks, air vents, trampolines, mattresses, and countless other items are at your disposal. You can lick anything that moves including humans and other goats and doing this allows you to carry things around town, like money to buy a whole bunch of hats, or Sanctum
statues. NPCs inhabit the world but just barely, providing no personality and carrying out very simple tasks repeatedly until you ram or otherwise interrupt them. There's also a dozen or so gameplay "mutators" like double jumping, a jetpack, gliding abilities, and a Deadmau5 mask, that each change the game in unique ways, and you can combine a lot of these together to traverse the two cities in all new ways. There's also a slew of Easter eggs for other games like Slender, Minecraft, Sonic The Hedgehog
, and Flappy Bird
. Even some mutators themselves do nothing but deliver a humorous nod to other works, like altering your "baaaa" to a Skyrim
dragon's roar as you become the Goatborn.
The best part about Goat Simulator
, fortunately for this audience, is the achievement list. A lot of the game's most bizarre and entertaining features are the tasks necessary to unlock more gamerscore. Where the visuals are akin to an early 360 title, or worse, and the sound design is limited to generic music and awfully-delivered NPC one-liners, the achievement list actually keeps the game worthwhile for the few hours it takes to complete it. One achievement takes you to the summit of Goatville and then makes a Lion King
reference. Another has you ram a Raiders of the Lost Ark
-sized boulder down a hill onto an unsuspecting group of partying 20-somethings. The list is varied, full of secrets, and never challenging, with one exception. You have to score 10 points on Flappy Goat
, an in-game mini-game that is as frustrating as Flappy Bird
, if not more so due to poor hit detection. I gave it five minutes before I was ready to throw my controller at the moon. A hastened playthrough could unlock the entire list in under three hours and real speedrunners could do it all in roughly 90 minutes, I estimate. To really understand the experience of Goat Simulator
, watch the video below and just know that it netted me 30 gamerscore.
Sorry, this Game Clip has been removed
Not since Deadly Premonition
has a game achieved cult status like Goat Simulator
has. Following a similar so-bad-it's-good formula, it's as absurd as the title implies and charmingly embraces all of its flaws. For that reason, you can't take it too seriously. It's a messy but momentarily enjoyable experience that gratuitously delivers more gamerscore, but as soon as you're done with seeing what it has to offer -- Easter eggs, achievements, and a few good laughs -- there's no reason to return. Pack your bags and head out of Goatville with nothing but a hat collection and weird memories in tow.
- Easy Achievements
- Fun Easter eggs
- Fun wears off quickly
- Very buggy
- Graphics and sound that feel a decade old
The reviewer spent six hours as a goat, collecting 26 of 30 achievements for 880 gamerscore, licking everything, glitching around, and ultimately wondering if it was all just a fever dream. This Xbox One copy of the game was provided by the developer for this review.