ESRB RATING: RP
DEVELOPER: Coffee Stain Studios
BUY IT FROM STEAM: Here!
Made during a game jam by Coffee Stain Studios, Goat Simulator made for a questionable prospect past the usual internet novelty value. Physics-based wreckage playgrounds are hardly anything new, and even the game’s cover art (Spoofing those ubiquitous European simulator games clogging Steam) suggested that the developer didn’t even understand their own joke past one-dimensional meme-friendliness.
With the game finally out, it’s a relief to report that it does arrive with some meat on its bones… to an extent.
The game is a purely sandbox affair: you get the map, physics to exploit, copious amounts of breakables and jumps to exploit and a goat to exploit them with. What you do from there is up to you, though most of it will consist of either ramming stuff with your head as hard as you can, or making yourself airborne as often and as crazily as possible. Your toolset is limited but flexible: you can run, jump or lick using your impossibly elastic and sticky tongue, though you can find objects that will, dependent on your point of view, either increase your range of mobility or simply make your uncontrollable antics funnier.
Essentially, the game plays like an amalgam of the Fraud minigame from Saints Row and the Tony Hawk games: you gain points from each breakage of in-world objects that can be chained into multipliers and boosts, bringing a score-chasing element to the proceedings. Naturally, part of the fun of the game is working out how to use the varied and wholly destructible environment to set up huge-scoring multipliers, leading to a lot of happy accidents as you fumble around the map spreading chaos in your wake. Let me put it this way: A task given you by the game is simply called ‘Michael Bay’ – three guesses how you unlock that one. Adding to the craziness are the intentionally glitchy animations, with your goat’s proportions warping grotesquely/hilariously as you send your victims awkwardly ragdolling hither and tither. Interestingly, Coffee Stain have straight-up made the game’s glitchy, unoptimized state a selling point; there’s even an achievement for making the game crash.
Where Goat Simulator really gets interesting, however, is with the range of surreal and in some cases disturbing side activities dotted around the map, with some environmental objects specifically designed to fling you across the map towards them. This gives the game a genuinely enjoyable sense of discovery as you find each bizarre hidden spot and go about figuring out how to use them. It could be argued that much of the game’s fun factor is in discovering these things so I won’t spoil them, but you can expect to see these little events have a significant effect on your goat and his abilities.
Goat Simulator is a fun distraction with a surprising level of creativity to its design, but at the end of the day it probably works best as a social experience rather than a solo one. It’s simple to play, score-based and structured around utter chaos which makes it good fodder for playing with buddies, though the lack of controller support detracts slightly from its range of appeal. While a new map and multiplayer splitscreen has been announced as coming via a patch next month, the thing on which Goat Simulator‘s long-term appeal really pivots is what the Steam community might bring to it through the Workshop. With its sandbox-style structure and loose physics it would be great to see how far the mod wizards out there can take this thing.
It really depends on whether the basic gameplay will keep people’s attention outside the much-hyped novelty value. As it stands, the chaotic gameplay and flashes of real inspiration ensure at least a couple of hours’ entertainment for those looking for a dose of unfiltered silliness. Otherwise, the paucity of content may mean that some would be better served waiting for future content before paying their $10. Or, you could always wait for the GOATY Edition.
Yeah, I went for the pun. I regret nothing.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars