It would seem, at first glance, that the life of a goat is easy. You stand around and eat whatever you find, and occasionally headbutt something that presents itself as an easy target. Simple, right?
Nope. It turns out that the life of a goat is fraught with excitement and peril. Rolling boulders, low-gravity training, human sacrifice… The list just goes on and on. Or at least it does in Goat Simulator.
This game was originally something of a joke, with the title referencing the myriad “simulator” games that have come out in recent years such as Farming Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator. The developers behind Sanctum and its sequel made a tech demo involving a goat as some basic Unreal Engine training, and a single video launched the as-yet-nonexistent game into the spotlight almost overnight. So the developers took a few ideas, such as skating-style combos and a small yet detail-packed open world and came up with what is now Goat Simulator.
The game places you in the hooves of a goat in the backyard of a suburban-looking house, and from there you’re given free reign to do just about whatever you want. At first it seems like you’re going to be resigned to knocking down fences and bouncing on trampolines, but the first time you happen to glance over the achievement list, you’ll see that there’s a lot more going on here than first impressions would have you believe. Every corner of the map has some interesting thing to do, and the game rewards exploration and experimentation, even if the achievement list provides a few spoilers in that regard. There’s even a time trial feature with a built-in leaderboard that tracks your own high score alongside those of your Steam friends.
Even if you choose to go in blind, the game always has something for you to do, providing a list of tasks related to the trick system and checking them off as you accomplish each one. One nice feature of this objective list is that accomplishing something that isn’t the currently assigned task still counts, and occasionally you’ll find yourself succeeding at tasks completely at random. This is usually when you’re encountering a game bug of some sort.
Yes, the game has bugs, which isn’t too surprising for a hastily-developed title. However, the bugs rarely detract from the experience, instead giving you yet another thing to laugh about as your goat gets himself stuck in a fence, or an NPC ragdolls halfway through a wall and begins to resemble Stretch Armstrong after one too many espresso drinks. The best physics bugs are the ones that send you flying out beyond the normal borders of the map, giving you a glimpse of off-limits areas that you’ll wish you could visit to enact even more mayhem.
The developers created a small game that they could release quickly, but they made certain that it would have lots of potential replay value with one key inclusion: Steam Workshop support. Even before the game’s official release date, players who pre-ordered the game had access to more than a half-dozen pieces of additional content created by players, and that number is bound to skyrocket once the game sees full release on Steam. New maps and “mutators” are just what the game needs to be more than just a short diversion.
In my mind, the only thing missing that would make the game better would be multiplayer, but the developers have explained that synchronizing the physics engine across an internet connection would be extremely difficult to accomplish, and would likely slow down the game whenever multiple objects were being tossed around (which is quite often). While it’s possible that a group of enterprising fans could make it work, for now I’ll be content with playing solo.
In short, if you’re looking for the next Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto, you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for a goofy little time-killer and have ten bucks lying around, snag this game. Goat Simulator releases via Steam on April 1st for $9.99, or it can be purchased directly from the official website.