You know how jokes get less funny the more you hear them, but eventually pass some sort of event horizon of humour after which the amusement starts to increase again? This phenomenon - probably called something like Lee's Law - does not apply to Goat Simulator, a game that unfortunately falls victim to a different principle: that of diminishing returns.
That being said, it is funny. In fact, for a time it's very funny indeed, as you headbutt a petrol station until it explodes like a nuke, or fling a man into some threshing machinery using your elastic tongue, or ragdoll your furry charge down a huge waterslide and into an empty swimming pool below. Think of it as a Tony Hawk's game of yesteryear, only with a whole load more destructive possibilities. And, y'know, you play a goat.
You're let loose in a small sandbox environment: essentially a town in Nowhereville, USA, with all of its accompanying amenities. Houses with picket fences, batting cages, swimming pools, truck stops, construction sites, low gravity testing facilities - y'know, typical stuff.
"Think of it as a Tony Hawk's game with more destructive possibilities"
You interact with all of this via the standard suite of goatly actions: gambolling, kicking, headbutting, and licking. The whole thing, of course, is a massively exaggerated: plough into a car and it'll burst into a ball of flames. Get hit by a lorry and you'll likely fly across the map in a floppy bundle of fur and bones. Licking stuff also attaches it to your essentially infinitely extendable tongue, so you can drag it around with you (or be dragged by it).
There are a couple of additional inputs: you can manually initiate ragdoll mode, which makes your flaccid goat carcass fly even further or bounce even higher, or you can hit a key to emit a loud bleat. Because goats bleat. And it sounds funny. And those are all the reasons you're getting.
As you explore your environment more things steadily reveal themselves. There are, as you'd imagine, a large number of Easter eggs to discover, but these go above what you might expect. Yes there are collectibles, but there are also superpowers to unlock, new ways of interacting with the world (for instance mounting a pitching machine on your back and firing out baseballs), and even a trip into space to be had if you figure out how to call in the alien overlords.
That said, you're still not likely to squeeze more than a couple of hours of off-the-wall pleasure out of Goat Simulator - although at £6.99 that's hardly a disaster. Its main trouble is that the kooky mechanics get tired even before that, and there are some severe stability problems: we had several crashes in the first hour alone.
There's also not much to actually do: goals are limited to things like 'do a triple front-flip' or 'get nine seconds of hang time', and while these encourage you to explore and interact with your environment, it doesn't exactly lend itself to feelings of meaningful progression.
All of this aside, there's fun to be had here, and the gaming world is a better place with something like this in it. Plus, it's a piece of interactive entertainment in which you control a goat, and that can never be a baaaaaad thing.
Definitely funny, just not quite for long enough, and the surrounding game is uneven. Joel Gregory
- It's a game in which you play a goat. That really is enough.
- The ridiculous off-the-wall nature is genuinely amusing.
- The humorousness fades quicker than you might expect.
- Little sense of progression, and crashes are a problem.