There is something very badly behaved on the other side of door eight of the RPS Advent Calendar. Badly behaved and very noisy.
It’s Untitled Goose Game!
Dave: Who knew that a goose with vandalistic tendencies would be the best new character in 2019? From vegetable larceny to scaring timid children, the nefarious antics of this foul fowl have provided some great slapstick laughs. And all the while it honks and flaps at your command, it stares ahead, unblinking.
Untitled Goose Game takes you through the key areas of a sleepy village (allotment, high street, residential street and pub), and challenges you to check off a list of gentle yet criminal activities on a notepad. It’s a virtual to do list that makes Untitled Goose Game a very hard game to put down after the first honk. The comedy inherent in being a goose waddling off with a gardener’s hat, or hiding in a box to be smuggled into a pub, had me smiling from ear to ear throughout the few hours of play time. It also adds a refreshing twist to stealth in that being spotted doesn’t result in getting shot.
Many games can be experienced vicariously through a let’s play, but Untitled Goose Game is one of those rare occasions where to understand and embrace the horrible goose, you must first become the horrible goose.
Katharine: I would like to formally apologise to ‘Boy with Glasses’. You did not deserve the things this dreadful goose handler did to you in the days leading up to the Great Golden Bell Theft of September 20th. It is with deep regret that I untied your shoelaces, honking with glee as you tumbled to the ground, falling face first into a dirty puddle, and I am full of remorse for making off with your precious glasses, thereby forcing you to buy them back off the lady in the village shop. That was uncalled for.
Never again shall such terrors be wrought in the name of banging punchlines, because that, ‘Boy with Glasses’, would be a crime against your good self, and your innate wholesomeness and purity. The goose shall be disciplined accordingly, and I only hope that you can forgive these wanton trespasses against your person.
Astrid: There’s a moment in Untitled Goose Game which filled me with a sense of existential horror. In the High Street, one of your tasks is to appear on the TVs in the telly shop. You have to coax out the lady working there by trapping Boy with Glasses in a phone box (Katharine might be sorry, but I’m not) after which you slip in, flick a switch, and waddle in front of a camera that is now broadcasting to all of those televisions.
I sat there, staring at this goose, honking away into a camera lens, showing the whole world its beady eyes and nefarious beak. I sat there. Staring. Wondering. Is this all I am? Just some narcissistic goose, honking at people against their will through a screen, all in a desperate bid for attention? Some pompous bird with a vast collection of bells I know nought to do with? Is this my life now? Chilling.
Alice Bee: That meme about people chanting at the dentist, but “GOOSE!” instead of “TEETH!” I don’t want to undercut Astrid’s extremely specific moment of spine-tingling fear, but I think that the largest and nicest cultural impact the goose had this year was one of joy. Everyone played Untitled Goose Game and just indulged in play. All of us, at some point in the goose game, forgot about ‘winning’ the game and did something just because it was funny – because it was fun to hide and startle someone by honking, because the slappy feet and squat waddle delighted us.
It’s the sort of pure, giggling playfulness that children have when you get them a big expensive behemoth of a plastic race track, and they spend the whole day having fun with the box it came in. Yes, Untitled Goose Game does have objectives. It’s a stealth game where you are inconveniencing people. It says: please steal this apple.
But it also says: if you want to pull up all of the carrots in the garden and hide them in different places, you may do that too.
Looking for a different door? Head back to the RPS Advent Calendar 2019!