Every so often a game comes along that, even while you’re playing it, leaves you with the overwhelming feeling that you don’t truly understand what’s going on. These games tend to be few and far between and as such can come as a welcome change from linear stories and specific objectives.
While these haphazard games are rare, what seems to be even rarer is developers really going all out to enjoy themselves and provide a unique experience for anyone that plays their game. Coffee Stain Studios, the developers of Goat Simulator and the subsequent bundle Goat Simulator: Mmore Goatz Edition have thrown all convention out of the window. They’ve taken what was originally nothing more than a joke internally at the studio and turned it into something gloriously zany.
Upon launching Goat Simulator, we’re presented with what is, for all intents and purposes, a normal main menu. That’s normal if you look past the “Mutators” option of course. The “Mutators” option is brilliantly game changing, introducing a whole host of crazy abilities such as the Angel Goat’s demure glide down to ground level, the Jet Pack (which gives you a giant jet pack) allowing you to go boldly go where no Goat has been before and the Queen Goat which let’s you… well it’s probably best if you find that one for yourself.
The main menu is pretty much where the normality for the Goat Simulator Bundle ends; not even the main game is an experience that could be deemed as normal. Even the loading screens scream “You’re in for a wild ride kiddo” as seen below:
I don’t think there are many other games, if any at all, that tell you how to Ragdoll, Lick things, Sprint/Walk and execute Perfect Landings all in the same screen. All those elements, though, provide a wonderful addition to what is a game that’s incredibly fun if you don’t take it too seriously.
Goat Simulator and the subsequent MMO and Zombie based add-ons are an excellent way to waste a couple of hours. The game looks surprisingly good for what was initially an internal joke at Coffee Stain Studios. As well as looking good, the game is no slouch in the technical department either, making use of Nvidia PhysX and an Apex physics engine, with ragdoll physics for the goat and human models within the Unreal Engine 3.
It’s all in the details.
When playing the game the rag doll physics fit with the game’s apparent philosophy of being a whacky over-the-top time waster exceedingly well. Sure, the goat ends up stuck in some weird, wonderful and downright confusing areas and positions at times, but that’s part of the fun.
It’s almost like Goat Simulator challenges you to get yourself wedged in different places, whether it be getting your head stuck the metalwork frame of a crane, or having a hoof stuck in the carousel at the fair ground on the Goat City Bay level.
When you aren’t stuck in an obscenely ridiculous situation, then you can take the lead developer’s quote of “an old school skating game, except instead of being a skater, you’re a goat, and instead of doing tricks, you wreck stuff” and push it to its limits. Sick of bouncing on a trampoline in a disused pool? Then how about hitting the slow mo button and walking on your front hooves? Sound good? Great! Because that’s exactly what you can do. You can walk around on two legs or you can run around head-butting and licking anything that moves, or doesn’t move. Who’s to say what you can and can’t lick and head-butt? Be your own goat.
On occasion it could be that you grow tired of head-butting ordinary civilians in ordinary city and suburb surroundings. If that’s the case then the MMOre GOATZ Edition has exactly what you need.
The MMOre part of the bundle’s title draws inspiration from titles such as World of Warcraft and the Elder Scrolls franchise. The control system is very much the same as the control scheme used in the base game, with the exception of the abilities each subclass has access to.
The abilities to which you have access, and the design of each subclass, are strokes of genius. Subtle gags really prove the developer didn’t want to take themselves too seriously; the Hunter having a fishing rod and lures in an earth coloured vest, to the Magician (an obvious reference to many of this genres mages) wearing a waistcoat and magician’s top hat.
It’s not just subclasses and setting that MMOre Goatz borrows from the MMO and RPG genres. It has the all-to0-familiar quests, but with absurd twists. For example, you run across a civilian trapped in a cul-de-sac of rocks by some bears; of course, as the just and righteous goat that you are it’s on you to help this civilian in his time of need. How do you do this? By head-butting the bears of course. Not just any bears though – grizzly bears. Well they are supposed to be grizzly bears, but the developer and story writers have yet again drawn from their massive box of ludicrously good ideas and made the bears people in teddy bear costumes.
Let’s not forget the classic text box in the bottom left hand corner with all the classic messages you’d expect to see, from cries for help, requests for trades and (of course) insults such as the hugely offensive “you butt hat”.
Although teh game doesn’t have a sandbox nearly as massive as its genre forefathers, it does extremely well in covering all the basic requirements of level design. Townships full of peasants, regal courtyard areas with market stalls, beach fronts with mermaids, forges run by dwarves, farming land being ruined by money greedy Lords, and a magical forest all feature.
The second addition to Goat Simulator comes in the form of GoatZ. Another brilliantly designed play on a popular genre. Lending ideas from titles such as DayZ, Dying Light and Dead Rising.
You can start Goat Z in one of three ways:
- Before Outbreak – A world where all is as it should be. There isn’t a zombie in sight, that is until you start Baa-ing on people with your toxic zombie spawning breath.
- After Outbreak – The world is over run, survive for as long as you can.
- Tutorial – Learn the basic of survival, from weapon crafting to consumption of food to keep your energy level and life force high.
Again, as in the base game and the MMO expansion the visuals in this are surprisingly good, with your little goat having all the trademark wounds and appearance of a zombie. Not only that, but the regular human folk do go from NPCs that walk and talk as humans should, to the shuffling masses of the undead once infected.
As you’d expect judging from how vastly different the MMO expansion was from the base game, the Goat Z add is different again. Of cours,e the head-butt and lick are both still available to you as they are staples of all the games and show you the developers don’t forget all along that their protagonist is just a goat, at the end of the day.
The real triumph here is the weapon crafting. Acquiring items readily available in the open world and then using the “Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it” to create weapons of mass distraction. The first example of this is shown to you in the Tutorial, where you are given a gumball machine, a funnel and some hose and allowed to produce a Gatling gun style weapon that straps to your zombie goat’s back and fires gumballs.
When all is said and done this bundle is an excellent waste of a few hours, which you get the impression was the message the developer was trying to convey right from the off. It’s almost like they’ve said, “We’ve made this game, go play this game. How should you play this game? Well that’s up to you.”
You can play the base game and have merry old time head-butting everything and anything (and then licking it after you’ve head-butted it), you can float around in zero gravity, enter a goat fight club or even subject yourself to the torment that is Flappy Goat. In the original Goat Simulator everything is made more enjoyable by the over the top rag doll system and physics engine as it means you can never quite replicate an outcome perfectly, which in turn lead to the realization you’ve pretty much no idea what’s going to happen next.
When you get bored of being a regular goat, venturing off as a noble goat on many adventurous quests or turning yourself into a zombie goat and being the beginning of the end for humanity are only a couple of menus away.
Sure sometimes you get somewhere you shouldn’t have, meaning you need to use the respawn option to continue playing. At other times you’ll find yourself struggling to register a hit with the head-butt or a solid connection with your tongue (not a sentence you’ll see every day) and sometimes the controls and camera angles combined are unforgiving but that’s all part of the fun with the Goat Simulator Bundle.
At the end of the day, don’t take this game too seriously and you can have all sorts of fun with it. The only thing truly lacking which would increase it’s replayability ten fold was an online multiplayer aspect, particularly in the MMO expansion. This would have added another dimension to the bundle and taken what is already a very good and extremely fun game to play to the levels of greatness nobody would expect from an unnamed goat.
You can be a goat zombie or a goat magician. Need we say more?
There are precious few other games that embrace the inherent ridiculousness of this hobby as mightily as Goat Simulator: Mmore Goatz Edition. This sandbox of satire asks you to play along with a knowing wink and a smile, and before you know it you’re butting and licking and blowing things up and flying and you have wasted a couple of hours. At least.
And there are goats. And goats are just funny. They just are.