When Goat Simulator’s Alpha gameplay trailer was released in February, I may have managed a chuckle or two at the game’s inherent stupidity. The ‘trailer’ showed a goat taking part in a wide variety of shenanigans, including headbutting passing cars, climbing a crane and performing front flips. 3.5 million views later and priced at 7 pounds, developer Coffee Stain Studios’ creation is thrust in at the same price range of fantastic indie titles, demanding to be put under similar scrutiny.
In Goat Simulator, you are dropped into a small sandbox as a goat and given free reign to explore, headbutt and lick to your heart’s content. Your character also has the ability to slow down time, perform flips, ragdoll and even Baaaa. Fortunately, these abilities work as they should, with only the lick ability occasionally failing to register.
The core gameplay revolves around exploration and causing chaos in the aptly named town of Goatville. To the game’s credit, a lot of objects are interactable and destructible, including several conveniently placed fuel tanks, trampolines and pretty much anything made of wood. This element of destructibility works in perfect harmony with the ability to slow time, allowing for some entertaining emergent gameplay.
What’s more, the game’s sandbox is littered with secrets to unravel; however, none of them are particularly clever or innovative. Flappy Bird minigame? Check. An altar for Satan Worship? Check. The ability to become Goat queen? Check. It’s all very uninspired and exactly what you would expect to see in this sort of game.
You do have the ability to speed things up in the form of mutations accessible from the main menu, allowing the player to become a ‘Devil Goat’, ‘Queen Goat’ and ‘Jetpack Goat’ without having to discover these abilities organically in the games world. These special abilities alter the vanilla experience slightly, but don’t offer much in terms of replayability.
Making matters worse, the world is small; really small. Goats with a knack for exploration should be able to see everything this small world has to offer in 20 minutes, maybe even less.
The colour palette of the game is another low point, featuring bland and washed out colours that ooze laziness rather than charm. For many, the title is either straddling the line of cheap cash in or humorous experiment, and the game’s poor presentation certainly seems to indicate that it is the former.
The game does come with Steam workshop support, allowing users to download small, community-made modifications including new maps, Goat mutations and more. This does have the ability to extend the game’s life span, but only time will tell if people will still be interested in this title once the hype starts to fade and the game’s novelty wears off.
At the end of the day, the game is just that – a novelty. A novelty cashing in on an internet bandwagon that has attracted millions of views on YouTube and already far more sales than the game’s quality warrants. That’s the real joke here, I just don’t know whether to laugh at the game’s success or cry at its incredible mediocrity.