Trailers are funny things – whether for a video game, a tv series or hell, even a soft drink or stair lift, they present an idealised version of a product that rarely proves equal to the slickly produced promise.
Untitled Goose Game laughs in the face of this convention. Actually, it honks in the face of this convention before stealing its keys and throwing its rake into a big body of water. All of this is to say that I played Untitled Goose Game today at PAX West and it turns out to be every bit as joyful as I hoped it might be.
The demo I played (which you can see in its entirety below, if you like) takes place in the same plot of land as the trailer – a groundskeeper jealously guards an allotment from behind a locked gate, quietly going about his business with a galling lack of goose-centric chicanery. I was tasked with getting into the garden, getting the groundskeeper wet, stealing his keys, throwing his rake in the lake and also assembling a rather esoteric picnic that required such ingredients as a pumpkin, one raw carrot, and a radio.
Pursuing these objectives is a delight, whether you spend your time honking insouciantly or try to stealth your way through by creating a distraction and then adopting a low and slow waddle. The main area in which Untitled Goose Game differs from the experience shown off in the trailer, however, is in its difficulty. This is to say that the trailer makes flummoxing the groundskeeper look easy when, in fact, it is often anything but. The groundskeeper, you see, is a diligent fellow – any sign of a missing vegetable and he will set out to return the stolen item with an eerie sense of where said item might be. Using the environment to distract the groundskeeper whenever possible – or leading him on a literal wild goose chase – makes Untitled Goose Game feel as much like a proper tactical espionage title as it does a sandbox that allows you to be a sociopath with feathers.