We live in truly incredible times. These days, there’s a game out there that will simulate just about anything, and to be honest, most of them are pretty boring. Want to experience the thrill of cleaning streets? There’s a simulator for that. Love anything and everything related to trains? There’s a simulator for that, too. Like your shooters realistic? Play ARMA. Want to pretend to drive real cars at high speeds, even though most of you probably do that every day? There’s a ton of games for that.
Yes, it is the age of the simulator. Think of the most exciting thing that you can, and someone somewhere is probably making a boring, realistic, physics-based version of it. And yet, despite of all this, no one has ever made the simulator I’ve really wanted: a game where you play as an invincible, all-powerful, potentially demonic, world-destroying goat.
It’s all a joke, of course. That much was obvious from the game’s launch trailer, which spoofed Dead Island’s now infamous reveal trailer in the best way possible, slow motion and all. The main difference is that, while Dead Island was nothing like the game its initial trailer promised, Goat Simulator is.
"It’s all a joke, of course. That much was obvious from the game’s launch trailer, which spoofed Dead Island’s now infamous reveal trailer in the best way possible, slow motion and all."
It’s just a big, ridiculous running gag that starts with the fact that this game exists, and that you can play it. The game started out as a joke, but then the internet got a hold of it, and demanded that it be made. And Coffee Stain Studios, bless them, obliged.
Even they’ll tell you that the game isn’t very good, and you would be better off spending your hard-earned cash on a hula hoop, a bag of bricks, or even a real goat. This is the kind of game where bugs are features, the physics glitches are working as intended, and yes, you’re playing as a freakin’ goat who has access to a jet pack and can make a gas station explode just by headbutting one of the pumps.
It’s the fact that you’re a goat that sells it. If you were anything else, this wouldn’t work. A human being? Not clever enough. A cat? Too commonplace. A rhinoceros? Too over the top. But a goat? This is an animal that will eat anything, is featured prominently in petting zoos, and solves problems by ramming them with its face. It’s perfect.
"This is the kind of game where bugs are features, the physics glitches are working as intended, and yes, you’re playing as a freakin’ goat who has access to a jet pack and can make a gas station explode just by headbutting one of the pumps."
The goat itself is everything you’d expect it to be. Goat Simulator operates from a third-person perspective, and much of its design borrows from your standard third-person game. You can walk, strafe, jump and sprint, which produces a leaping gallop that wouldn’t look out of place on a gazelle, or has your goat dragging her butt along the ground like a dog. Another button causes your goat to let out a bleat, which run the gamut from the startlingly realistic (and in the context of the game, horrific), to the hilarious.
Since you’re a goat, your primary form of interacting with the world around you is by running into it with your face, or kicking it, and this will probably be the first thing you do to the first thing that is unfortunate enough to find itself standing in front of you.
But goats are a little more refined than that. They don’t just ram things: they eat them, too. In game, this translates into your goat’s ability to lick objects, people, and other goats, which allows you to attach your near limitless tongue, which appears to be made entirely out of pink super glue, to something and drag it – or in the case of something like a car, have it drag you – all over the map.
"Since you’re a goat, your primary form of interacting with the world around you is by running into it with your face, or kicking it, and this will probably be the first thing you do to the first thing that is unfortunate enough to find itself standing in front of you."
But that’s not all. Your goat also has the ability to ragdoll on command, do flips in the air, slow down time, and activate a number of special abilities after you’ve earned them. There’s also a scoring system that awards points and multiplyers for doing everything from headbutting people and jumping on trampolines to completing secret tasks or discovering hidden areas.
And for a while, all of that will keep you busy. The town that Goat Simulator is set in is relatively small, which means you’ll run into the game’s invisible walls sooner than you’d like, but there’s still a lot to do. You can go into houses and trash them. You can break up a group protesting phallic food by murdering the protestors, and you can even blow up cars or the aforementioned gas station just by ramming them.
Everything in Goat Simulator explodes, and flies around, and ragdolls, and crashes into everything else thanks to the game’s ridiculous physics system, which makes everything much more fun than it would be otherwise. As I mentioned, the goat is indestructible, so she’ll fly around and break physics and sometimes even the game’s invisible walls, if the thing that sent her flying is strong enough. Of course, she’ll often get stuck in the environment or behind some mountain of debris, but that’s what the respawn button on the menu is for. You just can’t keep a good goat down.
"You can break up a group protesting food by murdering the protestors, and you can even blow up cars or the aforementioned gas station just by ramming them."
This rampant and random destruction will keep you busy for a while, as everything you touch seems to explode and ricochet in the most absurd way possible. The best part is that your antics will go completely unnoticed by the local populace, who will continue to dance, or chat, or walk, or use their computers unless you attack them, as though they’re completely unaware of the fact that there’s this ridiculously powerful goat destroying everything and everyone around them.
Eventually, however, you’ll get bored of the rampant destruction. That’s when you’ll start finding things, like Coffee Stain’s headquarters, which have been recreated in the game, complete with a playable version of Flappy Goat. Or perhaps you’ll get a special score bonus for destroying an old outhouse or by inadvertently walking over a treadmill, which will immediately send you flying off into the distance.
The more you play around in the world, the more you’ll start to discover; things like an enormous pentagram in the forest which invites you to offer five sacrifices, or an Anti-Gravity Research Station, and those discoveries will make you ask questions. Can I get inside that? How about that enormous crane? How high can I go on this trampoline? What happens if I beat Flappy Goat? How do I destroy that car that’s drifting near the crop circles? Speaking of, what the hell are those for? And what do these collectible statues do? Wait, the achievements say I can go into space?
"This rampant and random destruction will keep you busy for a while, as everything you touch seems to explode and ricochet in the most absurd way possible."
Yes. Yes, you can. The game’s achievements will lure you along and help you figure things out, and a large majority of Goat Simulator’s appeal comes from finding out what exactly is in the world, and how you can interact with it. By far the best secrets are the mutators, which change your character model and give your goat special abilities that can be used unlocked for use in the default play mode as well as custom games.
Find enough statues, for instance, and you’ll be able to use the “Tall Goat,” which literally turns your goat into a giraffe. Another turns you blue and lets you run at extreme speeds, like a rather famous Sega mascot, and another will let you become queen of the goats and summon peasant goats from the sky.
It’s then, in those moments, that Goat Simulator really shines. The best moments that the game provides are ultimately the ones you discover for yourself, so I will not spoil them here. If you can, go in blind. You’ll be surprised by the amount of easter eggs here, and given the fact that the game supports Steam Workshop, more content will likely be available down the road.
Even with all that, though, the game’s appeal is limited to little more than a couple hours. Sure, you’ll laugh, especially if you have a friend with you, and more than likely, you’ll have a really good time. But once you’ve seen and done everything, there’s very little reason to come back.
"The best moments that the game provides are ultimately the ones you discover for yourself, so I will not spoil them here. If you can, go in blind."
In a way, Goat Simulator is an awful lot like The Stanley Parable. At first, you’ll have no idea what to expect, so you’ll do the obvious things. Then, you’ll try to find all of the secrets, and see everything the game has to offer, and when you can’t figure out everything on your own, you’ll open a wiki. And then you’ll be done, and the urge to return probably won’t be there for most people.
Ultimately, what you get out of Goat Simulator is going to be based on how much you put into it, and how well you connect with the game’s sense of humor. It’s not a polished experience. It’s not going to change the way you think about video games, and for many, the price of admission won’t be enough for the amount of content on offer. It’s a difficult game to gauge; hard to write about without ruining the experience for others, and harder to score. There were moments when I wanted to give this game a ten, and moments when I considered giving it a four.
It’s brief, but I cannot deny how much fun I had while it lasted. It is a genuinely funny and entertaining game that offers something that nothing else does. Some will not like its sense of humor, and others will write it off as childish, or badly designed, or broken, and all of these criticisms have merit. As far as the boring old simulator genre goes? It’s definitely the GOAT.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Hilarious physics and environment makes destruction fun. Lots of fun easter eggs to find. A great sense of humor, and a ton of references. Mutators add a lot to the game. You can pretty much go anywhere and do anything in the world. Bugs are features in the best possible way. Steam Workshop support.
Content is a little low for the asking price. The game is badly optimized and runs poorly. Low replayability without mods or add-ons.