Tony Hawk Goatboarding.
Seriously. That is what Goat Simulator often times feels like. Yet, the entire game is a sandbox of experiments to goof around with.
PROS: It’s funny. It’s fun to mess around with.
CONS: Lack of focus. It doesn’t take long to experience everything.
WTF?: Pretty much everything. But then it is called GOAT SIMULATOR
Goat Simulator is certainly a strange title. Sure there have been a lot of those over the past 30 years. But many have called this The Room of gaming. Or The Birdemic of gaming. The stand out example of “So bad it’s good” in the industry of video games.
I’m not quite willing to go that far with my opinion. But I can definitely see why a lot of players might. Right from its description on Steam, the developers pretty much admit that Goat Simulator is a joke game. It isn’t meant to present a deep narrative. It isn’t meant to have AAA visuals that only a Michael Bay fan could love. (Which it does make a joke about.)
What you will get with Goat Simulator is a recipe for chaos. On paper for all accounts GS is a terrible game. It’s one part experimental physics tools, one part Octodad, and one part Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. All set in one open world with a number of objectives.
These objectives range from jumping over a certain number of objects to finding hidden trophies to performing tricks. This is where the Tony Hawk influence really shines through. Even going beyond the insanity you saw in American Wasteland. The goat can bounce off of trampolines, and perform all sorts of crazy air tricks. The goat can climb up giant cranes. It can find jet packs. The game even rips off one of Saints Row’s mini games by allowing you to go into a rag doll mode at will after being hit by a car.
There are also a lot of hidden missions you can find by exploring the map. All of which are accented by the really goofy physics within the engine. When the goat is rag dolled about, expect to see a lot of the crazed stretching you saw in the cult Octodad titles. The collision detection is about on par with Octodad. Often times your goat will be stuttering about like Christopher Lloyd in Food fight.
All of this leads to some of the game’s problems. Sometimes the speed or angle at which your goat, and game objects zip around cause severe clipping problems. In my time playing through the game I saw my goat get stuck in the roof of a house, blasted out of the game world, and saw many bizarre collision problems between people, crates, cars, bicycles, and steel beams.
I was also able at one point to get into an inaccessible spot behind the map where I eventually fell under the map before spawning again. In any other title these would be the sorts of instances leading to an absolute death knell. Here, these are still very big problems, but since the entire package is also a joke it has the oddness of not bothering the player as much.
Nevertheless, it still shouldn’t be praised as a feature, rather called out as a blight in an otherwise decent attempt at a comedic game. The other major problem the game has is its brevity. It won’t take you more than a couple of hours to see all there is to be seen in Goat Simulator.
There are a number of achievements for collectors to shoot for, and the game does go for a high score approach. But unlike the Golden Age of arcade games where a time limit, or number of lives made getting a high score a challenge this game has none of that. You quite literally cannot lose at Goat Simulator. Well that’s not entirely true. There is a time trial mode, but you have to find it in the game world. It still could have been devised a little bit better than it was, focusing on having them for each mission once completed during the free roam. Instead it’s a generic green stop watch that essentially seems to randomly tell you which task to attempt.
Goat Simulator is an anomaly. It’s not a great game by any stretch of the imagination. But it has the foundation in place to actually become one. If the overall game had a little bit more focus with rewards, and punishments it could indeed be the sort of game those who loved the original run of Tony Hawk games would flock to. It would also be the sort of game fans of quirky titles would flock to. Having a number of open courses with various hidden Easter Eggs, along with a set of missions for each would have been welcome.
Goat Simulator does give players a number of laughs, so marrying this comedy with a bit more focused game play would have also went a long way to making a more memorable experience. As it stands the game ends up being shallow once the initial novelty of its silliness begins to wear off. So some extra maps, and fine tuning really would have helped the game be more than a momentary break from other games.
And yet, at the same time even in its archaic, chaotic, mess of a state it is something one has to see to believe. It’s buggy. It has a ridiculously stupid concept. By all accounts it really should have spent a bit more time in development to be ironed out.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that while this is a train wreck, it is a really fun train wreck. I don’t know if it is the poster child for games that are so bad they are good. But Goat Simulator is in fact, so bad that it is actually good. It will genuinely make you laugh for the right reasons as well as the wrong ones. If it proves successful one can only hope future versions will feature meatier content, and a lot more quality control. It’s one thing to have a funny bad game. It’s quite another to have a funny game that is good on all of its fronts.
Be that as it may, Goat Simulator isn’t a great game, but you may want to see it anyway.
Final Score: 4 out of 10 (But it’s a really fun 4 to mess around with.)