A Birdwatcher's Review of Untitled Goose Game

By Ryan F. Mandelbaum on at

Untitled Goose Game effectively ended for me when I found the boy who would run away if you honked at him. I didn’t need to achieve any more goals. I had reached peak goose.

The game was released last Friday on PC and Switch. I rarely play games and I was not good at this one. But as a birdwatcher (or more accurately, a birder), I was absolutely thrilled at the chance of controlling a bird who does bird things. I love being the goose.

I also like learning about birds and going outside to identify birds and talking about birds with other birders. I cherish this hobby and am somewhat obsessive about it because it’s the only escape I’ve found from 21st century-induced stress.

Video games typically stress me out because I’m bad at nearly all of them and I don’t like being bad at things. But when I heard there was a game where I could simply be a goose, I knew I had to play. I could be good at being a goose.

Image: Epic Games

Untitled Goose Game from House House was the subject of considerable hype prior to its release, for good reason: You’re a cantankerous goose and it’s your job to sneak around and manipulate the environment in order to ruin the non-player characters’ days. It’s among the first video games I can think of that has received considerable attention across my own social media circles, on which I engage with mostly bird-related content.

But first, I had to figure out what kind of goose I was. There aren’t a lot of large all-white geese with pink bills. I figured it was either the North American Snow Goose or the domesticated form of the Greylag Goose. The shape of the animal and its particular association with humans made it clear I would be piloting the latter. The game doesn’t have many other natural features, but I was happy to see cattails on the side of the pond.

I booted up the game, learned to navigate, pick up things, and honk, and I was off to be a goose.

To be honest, I was about as bad at this game as I am at every other game, which was frustrating. The first few tasks – stealing keys from the groundskeeper or getting him wet – were easy enough. But after around thirty minutes of shuffling things around, I couldn’t figure out how to get the groundskeeper to put on his sun hat. Plus, the awkward controls – specifically the running mechanism (it’s harder to turn if you’re running) – meant that piloting my feathered form took more effort than I was willing to put into the game. I decided that I’d use a walkthrough whenever I got stuck and simply focus on manifesting my gooseness.

Image: Epic Games

And the game definitely delivered on that front. The waddling, honking, and flapping all seemed properly goose-like to me. I don’t have a lot of experience with greylag geese but from my experience with North America’s Canada geese, I would say that yes, geese (especially feral geese) can be territorial and fearless animals. I have been hissed and honked at by them and even attacked for getting too close. I felt the game shined most during moments when I didn’t have to hide my goosehood, when the non-player characters noticed me, feared me, and even applauded me.

But geese, even domestic geese, do more than annoy humans. They’re monogamous animals that start families, they must survive deadly threats, and wild geese are often migrants. These are all fine avenues for Untitled Goose Game 2 to explore.

Other people can tell you whether the game was actually good or not. But me, I was just happy that I got to be a goose this weekend.

Featured image: Epic Games

Tags: