Goat Simulator Review
Modern Independent Gaming is an absolute joy to watch flourish and strive. While we receive dark news everyday of big companies making bad ideas, we have many intelligent people whom produce many different kinds of interactive entertainment. We’ve reached a point where if there’s a very niche game idea, it probably already exists – and probably on Steam or on Greenlight. If there’s one particular niche that’s the oddest, however, it’s certainly the “simulation” genre. It may seem like an odd statement, but hear me out – ever since the sudden explosion of the train simulators a couple years back (not to mention the Trains vs Zombies DLC), whether it be for ironic or legitimate enjoyment, many people have gotten in on the realistic-machine-operator craze. There are a variety of simulations available, including being a Search and Rescue copter pilot, a Car Mechanic, and even a Woodcutter.
In all honestly, many of these do feel like they’re being produced to now fit this brand new fad – and, from Coffee Stain Studios, comes a brand new… experience. A simulation quite like none other – I mean, how many other simulators focus on being a pissed off goat?
Originally a smaller project from a Game Jam, Goat Simulator puts the players in the hooves of a goat, giving them the ability to headbutt, lick objects, jump, and ram. These are the core elements of the game – instead of aiming for “realism”, Coffee Stain Studios instead gives the players the ability to free roam around a small town and essentially destroy it – whether it be by bashing into people, blowing up cars, smashing fences and furniture, or pulling stuff along with your tongue.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about the gameplay of Goat Simulator. Apart from the free-roam, there is a scoring system – certain objects or actions are worth more points, and they can be linked into a combo, giving a much bigger score. Getting a bunch of linked actions together feels extremely good, especially when you see the huge score appear at the bottom. You are given a set list of objectives to complete, which range from achieving a certain height, hitting an object a certain distance away, to simple ones such as hitting a certain score. There’s a real delight in completing these quests, especially tough ones which require sometimes insane logic (or lack thereof) to achieve. Along with the missions are bonus actions, some of which tie into the missions. These are really fun to find, particularly the “Michael Bay” one.
However, I do have an issue with score challenges – while a score may be easy to build early on, when things are more pristine and breakable, later on it can become a bit of a drag. It especially felt draining when I activated a time trial (In which I had to make a big score in sixty seconds), and my score reset as it had to reload the entire game. This isn’t the game’s fault, sure, but the prospect of having to climb back up to that wasn’t that exciting to me.
What makes up for this is the inclusion of golden goat statues, which are hidden in numerous places. Some of these are easy to find, while others are extremely devious to find. They unlock new types of goats to play as, and they’re all a lot of fun to play.
What I love is that not only is the game’s physics system crazy and slightly broken, but that the game knows it – and it revels in it; objects can be knocked far and ahead, and the head of the Goat will wildly flail in ways that are physically impossible, particularly when climbing (a.k.a running up) ladders. The physics are so haphazard that I can set off an explosion on the other end of the map without even trying. Pressing Q will toggle a “ragdoll” mode, which is amusing to activate when being blasted high into the air. Holding right-click will enable a “trick mode” – pressing the WASD keys will rotate the goat, and landing perfectly after rotating will reward the players for flips. They’re difficult to pull off, but oh-so-satisfying when achieved.
One of the most pleasing features is gaining new abilities, which can be done by picking up objects such as a jetpack, or making a pact with Satan. No, neither of those look or work right – the Jetpack is an uncontrollable mess and the powers of Hell, well… you need to see for yourself. But they’re so much fun and can be vital in creating new and inventive ways to destroy things. And that’s what I feel is the main allure of Goat Simulator. The game itself isn’t all that long; you can probably play for about an hour or two, and get a lot out of it. However, it’s a game over which you can share your experiences with others – comparing your biggest scores and your largest combos, figuring out where the golden goat statues are, etc. It’s truly a game meant to be streamed or played with others (others watching I mean, currently the game is a single player experience). As a game where the main objective is to destroy things, it can be a good stress release, especially when you destroy larger objects such as fuel tanks or cars.
There’s not much to say about the graphics. They go for a more realistic route, but given the nature of the game, that isn’t necessarily a big deal.
The sound is a lot of fun – the music is slow but frantic, and it actually reminds me a lot of Wario Ware in how it sounds. The sound effects are also great fun – pressing the one key will enable the goat to Baa, which range from standard calls to blood-curdling screams. Environmental damage sounds fantastic, and the human sound effects sound really meaty and satisfying. They even left in text-to-speech, and there really is something innately funny about a robotic voice saying what you type, as if it were the Goat talking.
The game, however, is far from perfect. You can easily glitch through walls or the background (which can be resolved with a click of “respawn” in the pause menu), objects can get stuck in odd places, and as said before, it isn’t a huge experience unless you make it one yourself. In that way, it’s like Garry’s Mod – especially considering the game has Steam Workshop support, enabling users to add more content such as mutators to change what the goats are capable of or new maps to play on. I feel that adding Workshop support was the best decision the developers have done. Essentially they have provided a small product with an ongoing, ever-growing source of new, free content.
It is very understandable, however, if people find it hard to justify the price of $10, given its flaws. However, I feel it has every right to be this price. Coffee Stain Studios have created a product which is a cynical look at the outburst of shovelware that’s been appearing on the Steam marketplace, especially when it comes to poorly made simulators. They’ve taken a game genre that’s usually filled with poorly-produced content and made the ultimate response, the ultimate “criticism”, if you will – and it’s considerably so much cheaper than many simulation games available on Steam. It’s going to do very well during sales, which can only lead to extra Steam Workshop content.
Goat Simulator is an entertaining experiment of a game, with humour around every corner. While I am concerned that other developers will see this and try and imitate it, and while simulator parodies have been attempted before with Surgeon Simulator, Coffee Stain Studios have created a novel product. This game has probably been the most entertaining I have played in ages, and for that, I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth.
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
ESRB Rating: N/A