Goat Simulator may only be a physic playground, but it’s not as aimless as it first seems. There are dozens of optional objectives to complete that run the gamut from running up the sides of buildings, to staying in the air for a certain amount of time. And as you go about completing them, exploring the two areas – Goatville and Goat City Bay – for opportunities to conquer the objectives and hunting that precious 1,000 Gamerscore, you’ll also discover secret areas, odd occurrences, millions of glitches and bugs, and plenty of referential humour, these will distract you, and before you know it hours will have passed, and you’ve experienced nothing but hilarious, tear inducing fun.
Indeed ‘playground’ is certainly the appropriate word for describing Goat Simulator. Each area is full of equipment, buildings, people, and vehicles to distract you and have fun with, whether that’s ramming and kicking people metres into the air for sport, trying to ride skateboards and bikes, or defying gravity by running up walls and sailing through the air. Add a few glitches to your activities and the fun multiplies, but there’s so much more than just a few glitches.
Water transubstantiates between liquid, solid and gas, resulting in peculiar physics as you frequently jump off the surface or trot unabated on the ocean floor. Meanwhile, you tongue can latch onto almost anything and stretch seemingly infinitely, and on occasion the rest of your head will follow suit. Furthermore, random glitches can occur, such as you embedding yourself in a structure. It’s fantastically absurd. Wonderfully, the developers, Coffee Stain Studios, won’t be fixing any of these bugs either, just the game breaking ones, instead they label them as features, and features they certainly are, ones that make an amusing title downright hilarious.
If you crave structure, however, Goat Simulator isn’t for you. The many objectives serve the greater goal of scoring points, and that’s it. Multipliers accumulate and increase your scoring if you destroy objects and perform pretty much any action during the generous multiplier windows, causing your score to skyrocket – much like your goat when the physics glitch out and gravity forgets what it’s supposed to do for a living. It’s very similar to playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on endless mode; in fact some skating ramps and similar features are strewn across the map, along with skateboards you can hilariously ride. Additionally, everywhere you turn there’s something to do, somewhere to explore, or some joke to put a smile on your face, and you don’t need a skateboard to pull off some spectacular tricks, gain some speed, jump and press the flip button to back or forward flip, or press the ragdoll button and watch your body flop around the environment. There’s a wealth of delight to be found in the simplest actions thanks to the physics.
And that’s where Goat Simulator generates its fun: from the highly amusing, downright silly construction of the entire experience. It’s emergent gameplay at its purest, requiring you to make your own fun, and there’s an abundance of tools lying around waiting for you to interact with them that are brilliant at providing just that. Additionally, mutators can be unlocked and activated that modify your goat, such as a deadmau5 head that makes pedestrians dance at the press of a button, and plenty more for you to experiment with. However, you can burn out on the experience in longer play sessions. Go into Goat Simulator meaning to spend a couple of hours absorbing its stupidity and the fun can wear out, mean to go in for just a 10 minute mess about as dinner cooks, and expect a severely burnt meal as hours pass. Goat Simulator’s silliness is compelling when you’re aimlessly interacting with the world, but far less so when you’re more focused on achieving specific things. This can work against the list of objectives, especially so on the stiffer challenges.
The addition of four player local multiplayer easily alleviates any boredom, as bringing friends to the craziness enhances the fun tremendously. There are competitive challenges you can get involved with, such as races and score objectives, but the more structured setups feel incongruous to the rest of the experience and lacks the same fun. Creating your own challenges through emergent play, embracing the glitches and silliness, soon leads to ecstatic laughing.
Goat Simulator is purposely broken, the glitches are left in because they are funny to see and experience, because a physics playground where the physics are fluid and inconsistent introduces a compelling chaos that’s easy to enjoy. Four player is insane and brilliant. Blowing up gas tanks that propel you through the air, latching your tongue to pedestrians and dragging them up to a pentagram to be sacrificed, climbing up a crane and pushing an unsuspecting person off the top – whatever it is you end up doing in Goat Simulator, you’ll have a laugh and a lot of fun doing it. However, its lack of structure means your mileage with it depends on how you engage with its brand of humour and craziness.
Thanks to Coffee Stain Studios for supplying TiX with a download code
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