When someone says the title Goat Simulator to you, what do you even imagine? Going around eating grass and doing whatever it is goats do? Do you think that being a jerk is a routine part of a goat’s day? Maybe baaing at people (I can’t believe that’s a word)? Maybe donning a rocket pack or sacrificing humans so you become a rolling ball of death? Whatever you’re thinking, you probably won’t be prepared for your first time with Goat Simulator, nor any of subsequent ones as you play around with the array of insane unlockables to keep yourself busy.
Goat Simulator is pretty much some sort of weird sandbox where you play as a super-powered goat. You don’t particularly look like you have super powers, but since you can stick your tongue to anything and drag it along, survive head-on collisions with cars and nearby explosions, and shoot yourself into low orbit over the earth, that goat’s gotta have something going for him. It never takes that long before you see just how durable your goat is, as I was pretty much run over by a car instantly when I started it up, bouncing along in the tires of a huge truck. I was seeing how quickly I could bounce myself around soon after that, marveling at this super goat and her ability to tolerate pain.
You’re given free reign over a little part of town, complete with houses, cars, and people to create havoc for. Exploring the town is one of the fun parts of it, as your bizarre powers make the most mundane discoveries fun. Once you’ve exhausted all of the normal places, you can also poke around for golden goat statues, as once you collect enough of them you unlock other ‘goats’ you can use in the game. While poking around for those, you might also find some odd places around the game’s map. It’s highly recommended that you go places where it doesn’t look like you should go, as many of the game’s secret places are hidden in dark pits or in gaps that don’t appear to go anywhere. You’re goat’s indestructible, so if you see some bottomless hole, go ahead and jump in. It’s not like she won’t survive it.
Without spoiling any of those places, let’s just say that they’re hilarious, bizarre, and will grant you even more powers to add to your invincibility. One spot gives you a tougher, weirder looking goat, which wasn’t very impressive, but others allowed me to form into this weird, stretched out ball of my character model and fly through the air at absurd heights. Also, I can guarantee that whatever you’re picturing that looks like, it looks a lot weirder than that. You can also gain the ability to create new goats in the environment until you crash the program, as the goats you spawn die from being dropped into the game and don’t seem to have any other purpose. If those don’t work for you, you could always eat people and turn them into fruit bombs or roll around like a blue goat version of Sonic the Hedgehog. You know, whatever you happen to feel like doing.
The only drag of the extreme powers is that few of them are particularly useful in causing more mayhem. I liked the flying ball power, and the fruit bombs were good for a laugh or two, but I just couldn’t find many useful applications for them in the game itself. They’re more like funny little discoveries, and while they work for that, I kind of wished they let me cause a bit more trouble for the people in the game.
If I want to make a nuisance of myself, though, I already have plenty of in-game options. For starters, I have a little headbutt that absolutely destroys anyone it makes contact with. People get knocked over with one hit, but a second smack while they’re airborne will send them flying to a new town where they’ll hopefully start a more peaceful, goat-free life. You can also use this to instantly explode anything flammable or explosive in one hit, sending yourself flying. Beyond that, there’s always the array of boxes, bookshelves, and other objects in your average home that you can start knocking around, trying to cause as much of a mess as you can in the random houses around town. There’s a lot of joy to be had from jumping through someone’s window and turning their whole life upside down by ripping their house to pieces. The only thing I wish I could do was to tear down the walls of some of these structures altogether. As a proper villain, my goat only dreams of being able to cause more destruction.
Should you launch yourself into the stratosphere with your shenanigans, you can also ragdoll once you’re up there with a touch of a button. I mean, a goat falling off a building is funny, but one that’s flipping around everywhere is even better. I felt that this ability would work best on many of the ramps and half-pipes around the city, allowing my limp goat to do some sick tricks for a couple of laughs, but it seems to lose momentum quickly. Ragdolling when you’re flying and want some extra hang time works well because of this, but it meant not gaining as much speed as I would have wanted when flying down some ramps. I couldn’t get the goat to move very fast down the ramps because of that, so I was a bit disappointed. At most other points, though, it’s hard to deny how funny it is to just see a goat flopping around.
So, beyond rolling down ramps and smashing things with your head, what else do you think of when you think of goats? If you answered “They have a long, sticky tongue to grab things.” then you’re either completely deranged or you work for Coffee Stain Studios, as your goat has just that. Now, you don’t have to worry about things like its strength or stretching distance or anything sensible like that, as you can pull a car with it and stretch your tongue so far that the object you’re pulling could be caught behind a tree in another neighborhood and still be attached to you. These also result in some funny mayhem, as watching a human you’re dragging suddenly get flung down the road and into a wall after they get snagged on something is great for a laugh. It’s also funny to run through a gathering of people while dragging a hatchback behind you, swinging the car through crowds like it weighs nothing.
There are also dedicated objectives you can complete to give yourself something extra to do instead of just running around causing trouble. They involve getting your score to certain levels (You’re given points for everything dumb you do, which gives you a bit of an incentive to goof off), reaching certain heights, or trying out different things. These helped guide me through the moments when I ran out of things to smash, giving me a couple more fun activities to keep me busy. It was nice to have some direction in the town, and it gave me some things to shoot for, but some of the objectives seemed way too hard until I found alternate means to complete them. So, if you find yourself having trouble with one, try some of the unlockables and come back to it. If something seems too hard to do, you’re probably approaching it the wrong way.
If all that starts to get a little tired, you can always go into the menus and bust out some of the weird, unlockable creatures I mentioned before. Then again, when you can strap a very home-made looking jet pack to your goat’s back, why would you bother? Now, the jet pack being brutally hard to use is the problem, but if you’re just looking to cause chaos in no particular direction, strap in and hit the button. On the basic goat, it’s relatively easy to aim yourself for a few seconds before you start to lose control and whip around in every direction. The physics of the jet pack seem to take several factors into account, one of which is your creature’s weight, so it just doesn’t quite work on some of the other animals you can unlock. It’s also very hard to guide around, so it didn’t quite let me do a couple of the things I wanted it to. If you just want to watch a goat flying around in random patterns that are hard to control, though, it’ll get you chuckling.
Using those tools in a small neighborhood is a solid recipe for some laughs. The area is just big enough to be interesting, and also contains just enough people and places that there’s typically someone you can bug for a laugh. I liked running through crowds while dragging the biggest object I could find, swinging people around using my tongue, headbutting oncoming cars, or just plain running through someone’s house trying to tear the entire place to pieces. Still, it was the stuff that I didn’t mean to cause that made me laugh the hardest, such as the time I didn’t notice the propane tanks behind the boxes I was headbutting on top of a skyscraper, or the time I was dragging a person and got completely cleaned out by a passing car. The game is just filled with insane moments, either purposeful or accidental, that had me dying with laughter.
All of that being said, I found that this was the sort of game that I would boot up for an hour when I had friends over. The charm of it is something that really only lasts for a few hours before it’s played out, and then you shelve it for a while. For ten dollars that seemed pretty fair, but I kept finding more enjoyment from the game whenever I showed it to someone who hadn’t seen it before. This isn’t something you’re going to want to sit at home alone and play for a few hours. Goat Simulator practically demands that you have an audience while you play it, and you’re wasting it a bit if you don’t dig it out when your pals swing by. Like all of my best screwing around moments from the Grand Theft Auto series, I always wish someone had been around to see them with me.
When I did start to feel like I’d seen everything the game had to offer, I noticed that there was a place to apply mods to the game. There’s already one that will let you play as Shrek for some reason, and while that could not possibly interest me less, the idea of fan mods turning this into a never-ending spout of madness has me excited. Beyond that, the devs have also promised to keep the stream of content coming with new levels and other things, so even though the base package might seem a bit small, there is a lot more that’s coming. You are not prepared for the amount of goat madness that’s still on its way.
I hope that a different main track is with the new content when it hits the game, though. There is only one track that plays throughout the game, and while it’s weird enough to feel like a perfect fit for the game, it is a bit of a short loop and kind of got on my nerves. Otherwise, the effects are all very nice, especially the people who curse in deadpan voices once you grab them with your tongue or slam your head into them. Also, a dedicated button to “Baa”? You guys know the way to my heart.
Goat Simulator is my go-to game if I’ve had a bad day and just want to have a couple of solid laughs. There’s enough silly, bizarre content to break you out of whatever funk you happen to find yourself in, and with more on the way, the game intends to keep you smiling for some time to come. Beyond that, the ability to walk into a house and tear it apart, drag a car down the street and into a protest, or just plain take flight on a rocket pack is there at your fingertips for the game’s price. The laughs you get from some of the situations that occur in the game are well worth it.