Untitled Goose Game is perhaps the greatest gaming achievement of the year. Sure, it’s not the most technically advanced game or even the most fun one, but its surreal rise from a joke amongst a company with just 4 employees to the top of the Nintendo eShop and the national consciousness is nothing short of remarkable. The biggest game on Nintendo Switch right now isn’t the adorably recreated, big budget Link’s Awakening; it’s a prank game about being an asshole goose. The devs could have easily phoned it in and relied purely on the ridiculous premise to move units and provide them with success, but you can tell they truly poured their hearts into this absurd operation as evidenced by each hilarious puffing up of the goose’s wings, every annoyed resident’s reaction to a honk, and all the poor, damaged property left in the mischievous goose’s wake. They didn’t just create a meme-machine, they truly delivered on the promise of being an asshole goose. While I thoroughly enjoyed my time as our bird anti-hero from the start, the true glory of the world’s favorite goose’s low stakes carnage creating prowess fully crystalized for me in the game’s fantastic third area, The Back Gardens.
Following successfully ruining the day of a mild-mannered gardener, a small bespectacled child, and a shopkeeper or two, I found myself ready to attempt to permanently destroy the relationship of two frustrated and woefully overmatched neighbors. Creeping from one backyard to the next, I slowly let my presence be known. Just when the male neighbor thought it was safe to relax and read his newspaper, I’d sneak up and give him a little honk to signify who was the boss. He’d certainly think twice before trying to take a sip of tea in peace again. Then, after a less than gracious entrance into the female neighbor’s living space via breaking through a small section of fence, I soon let her join in the mild misery by gleefully absconding with her paintbrush and smashing a dresser. These personal slights were exhilarating and hilarious, but I knew my winged-avenger could do better. It was time to pit neighbor versus neighbor in a battle unlike any the world had seen since Seth Rogen took on Zac Efron’s frat.
By studying my subjects, I had come to discover that whenever the male neighbor found something belonging to the female, he’d toss it over the fence back to her. Was it kind-hearted returning of her things, or was it something far more sinister and a sign of his annoyance? Either way, I’d make sure his next piece of air mail wasn’t so well received. Like any goose worth its weight in feathers, I checked my handy to-do list and observed an item for making someone break the fancy vase that belonged to the female human. When she wasn’t looking, I broke through the now-repaired fence yet again, snatched the vase, and scurried back over to the man, dropping it at his feet. In a moment of Pavlovian obliviousness/desperation, the man hurled the vase over the fence, shattering it at the poor woman’s feet. As their spirits dropped, mine rose to new heights.
My plan to force someone to hire a realtor was in motion but not yet complete. Now, it was time to have the woman return the favor by destroying the man’s prized rose. The setup was simple enough. I merely had to drag the pot containing the rose to behind the woman’s carefully pruned shrub that would conveniently be in need of some shearing. With the rose in place, I crossed the fence once more and frantically pecked at the carefully manicured shrubbery until the woman noticed. Then I stepped aside and let the magic unfold. In her exasperation to repair my damage, she didn’t even notice that delicate flower, and she cut off far more than she had planned for when adjusting the squirrel-shaped bush’s tail. This minor bit of neighborly mayhem had gone down without a hitch, and my little goose heart was filled to the brim with joy.
A few seconds after unleashing my masterpiece upon this tiny virtual, British town, I realized there was one last bit of unfinished business. During my prior vase escapade, the wronged party had witnessed the destruction, fulfilling the circle of havoc, but the aggrieved man was so busy enjoying finally being able to read his newspaper that he hadn’t yet noticed his misfortune. Ever the stickler for detail, I couldn’t let this blissful ignorance continue. Oh no, I would have to carry the sliced remnants of the rose directly to the man, so he could bask in my accomplishment.
As I laid the soon to be deteriorating petals at his feet, the man’s heart sank and he hunched over in defeat. That tiny final bit of asshole-ery really hammered home to me how much thought the creative geniuses behind Untitled Goose Game put into their wonderful creation. It’s one thing to let you be an asshole goose, but it’s entirely another to let you truly relish in your small acts of hostility. My work here was done, and it was time for me to move on. With the neighbors bickering like never before, I crossed through a new hole in the woman’s fence and made my way to terrorize a local pub and dig even deeper into the most painstakingly brilliantly executed joke the video game world has seen in a long time.
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