Review: Goat Simulator
Coffee Stain Studios, the developers behind Goat Simulator, describe their game as being “completely stupid.” They also advise you to spend your money on something else, or perhaps pool it together with friends to buy a real goat. I’m not sure I completely agree with them, but I understand the advice nonetheless. Goat Simulator is a silly game. It’s a mashup of tired sandbox and score-chasing game mechanics that succeeds in both being and making fun. It reminds me a bit of a timeless joke – even though you’ve heard it (or some version of it) years ago, it still elicits a chuckle each time it’s told.
Goat Simulator initially released on Steam over a year ago. It made a surprisingly huge splash in an industry that was starting to really dig simulation games. In opposition to, and perhaps in spite of, all the serious simulation games that were coming out, Goat Simulator did not take itself seriously whatsoever. You play as a goat that jumps around a city, headbutting and/or licking pedestrians. Just about every wacky, typically non-goat thing you do racks up a score counter that is of no consequence at all. Chaining tricks increases your multiplier a la Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It’s also a sandbox game full of hidden goat statues and lightly veiled objectives. The whole thing is ridiculous, but it also works.
This may be the only game that I can honestly say benefits from choppy framerate, ambiguous collision detection, and other such graphical anomalies. It’s like a “make-your-own slapstick comedy from scratch” kit. See some cars in the distance? Headbutt them to blow them up. Want to reach outrageous heights only to fall into a ragdoll heap? Jump on some roof fans. If you ever get bored with the first city, there’s another one waiting to be ransacked into oblivion. I have to earnestly applaud some of objectives. They are well designed and laid out to the player in a way that provokes thought and joy at once. For instance, there’s a section of the first city that contains a couple of crop circles. There are poles sticking out of each of the crop circles, but one of the poles has a disc on top of it. I thought nothing of that for the first few hours I played the game, only that it’s a fittingly dumb thing to exist in this world. However, after goating around with Brad for a while (more on that in a bit), I overturned a desk that had a disc taped underneath it. My mind made the connection that I needed to lick it (the game’s tethering system) and trot it over to the crop circles. A minute later Brad and I were bummed that nothing had happened. The next minute, though, we were cracking up as a UFO appeared, sucked us up off the ground, and dropped us into outer space. What’s equally entertaining/nifty is that most objectives award you with mutators that you can add to your goat. The Angel mutator (earned by not headbutting a pedestrian for five minutes) allows you to float and modify your fall, for example. Though I get a kick out of most of the mutators, the Blue Streak one is probably my favorite (check the embedded video at about 13:00).
I was a bit bummed that this version of the game didn’t come with the recent Steam additions – GoatZ, which adds zombie content, and the MMO pack, riffing on fetch quests n’at. Usually, a delayed release means that all previous content will be included. Instead, this PS4/PS3 version of the game is the base game, essentially. They did, though, add local multiplayer (4p on PS4; 2p on PS3), which makes it a fantastic party trick. Brad and I Share Played the game with no hitches and it was a pretty good time. I guess it’s not so intensive that it would be affected by being streamed. Also, it probably isn’t noticeable since the whole game is essentially broken anyways. Surgeon Simulator used to be my go-to silly, cooperative, party-friendly game. I’m glad to add Goat Simulator to that list.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Hilarious sense of humor
- Freedom of sandbox game with guidance of objectives
- Split-screen multiplayer
What I Dislike:
- Joke would stretch more with the MMO and zombie add-ons, which are absent from this version.