In what started out as an indie developer tech demo gone crazy, Goat Simulator has arrived. Curious, I head to its Steam page for more information and find this as the product announcement from developer Coffee Stain Studios: “You can now be a goat.”
Thanks allot, Coffee Stain Studios. I guess I’ll have to take it from there.
Yes you can, in fact, be a goat. Actually, you can be one of several goats with differing abilities, based what you do while playing. Goat Simulator, as you probably well know by now, is not so much a simulator as a sandbox. A messy sandbox full of glitches and bugs that the developer touts as features. In almost any other game that charged you money to play, that would be an absolute game breaker. Here it’s almost as if you’re partaking in a gaming in-joke, as the developers are saying, “Yeah, we know it’s broken but it’s more fun that way so we’re leaving it.” That form of honesty is a nice change but is it worth it to pay $10 to play in a sloppy physics playground? I do not plan on doing a proper review for Goat Simulator at this time so let’s just spend some time exploring GoatSim and its idiosyncrasies.
Let’s start with the goat. This is the dumbest, yet most powerful goat ever to live. I’m not saying goats are usually smart, but holy heck is this goat brain dead. He apparently is also made from jelly with no bones, based on his body’s reactions to impacts – of which he sustains allot. Whether getting hit by cars, rocked by explosions, or just crumpling in a heap after a failed forward 720 flip, this poor goat-like creature sustains an amazing amount of punishment and keeps its goofy grin going the entire time. My theory: it’s knows it’s immortal, and is just flaunting it on the world. Jump off a building for fun, and then landing on his head? Sure, why not. Jumping into speeding trucks just for laughs? Of course. Using his extra sticky tongue to latch onto a hang glider after leaping from the top of a construction crane and taking a ride around the map? You know you want to.
There’s just something about this carefree style of play that’s fun despite it ultimately being pointless. Actually, that’s a poor choice of words because points are the name of the game. Scoring points for doing anything, ranging from jumping over a bar to getting a ton of air (thanks again, hang glider person!), combined with multipliers for chaining tricks together give this positively goalless game an actual skill curve and things to accomplish. Everything you do is worth some points – I particularly laughed at getting points for “jumping over a ham” at a convenience store that I wrecked. The game world is fairly large and packed with things to use, break, move or interact with in some way. You can ride slides, go to a skate park, jump on trampolines or mattresses, get shot off an overpowered treadmill, or even play Flappy Goat. Yes, you can find a playable Flappy Bird clone in one of the buildings. It is upon finding those kinds of small touches that you realize that Coffee Stain Studios put some effort into GoatSim and it’s not just a half-hazard release thrown together to placate gamers whims. Throw in Steam Workshop support for mods and maps, as well as built-in mutators (this is running on the Unreal engine, after all) and Goat Simulator becomes even more creative. When I found the Goatborn mutator under the custom game menu, I had to try it. If giving an immortal, super-powerful goat access to the Fus-Ro-Dah dragon shout from Skyrim seems like a bad idea, that’s because it is – but it’s also crazy fun.
There’s really nothing more to Goat Simulator. You run around, you terrorize a small town, unlock powers, items and other fun toys to make your reign of destruction more ludicrous, and that’s about it. People watching me play were constantly laughing and commenting on my goat’s crazy antics. It is perhaps more fun to watch someone be a fool with a runaway super-goat than it is to be at the controls, making this a great spectator game. I could see it being a great game to break out at small parties of non- or casual-gamers, just to see their reactions. A group of people could have a blast thinking up new ways to wreak havoc in the game, laughing at both the successes and the failures. After all, sometimes you’re a reaching for the moon, and other times you’re stuck, imbedded in the side of a drained pool. That’s life as an immortal Uber-goat.