Within the first three minutes of “Goat Simulator,” I used my goat’s tongue to hurl a car into a gas pump, blowing up the gas station and earning a “Michael Bay combo.”
Coffee Stain Studios’ magnum opus embodies slapstick comedy more than any other game I’ve played. “Goat Simulator” was originally conceived as a joke, a parody of games such as “Microsoft Train Simulator” and “Woodcutting Simulator 2013.”
However, “Goat Simulator,” which is far less serious than its peers, could have been more accurately titled, “Destroying Suburbia as a Goat: The Game.” You control your goat and wreak as much havoc as possible. That’s it.
The joke gained momentum on social media, and the developers used that momentum to dive into making the game for commercial release.
For all the humor the game provides, rushing the project undermined its quality. The game was a joke in January, but was released April 1, giving Coffee Stain little time to add content. There’s only one neighborhood-sized map with about 30 objectives,
adding up to less than two hours of gameplay. Fortunately, the game is only $10, and Coffee Stain plans to start releasing free downloadable content next month.
The goat, however, is not the game’s star. That title belongs to the game’s physics engine. The goat is a tool with which to fling cars, headbutt people into the air and front flip onto hang gliding
enthusiasts. Every object in the game responds to your touch, flying through the environment and crashing into other objects, creating a domino effect. It’s simulated mayhem.
The game is riddled with bugs, but it’s all by design. The animations and physics consistently glitch, because Coffee Stain left in whatever glitches made the game funnier. But after the lower half of your goat’s body clips through the ground for the third time, the charm wears thin. I felt like half the game I was trying to not get my goat caught on objects I’d strewn about the map. I’m all for leaving in funny glitches, but the developers should have realized some of the glitches would be detrimental to
That’s the problem with “Goat Simulator.” For all if its secrets and comedy, the gameplay never rises above mediocre. There’s a combo system reminiscent of Tony Hawk’s “Pro Skater,” but the points you get seem more dependent upon luck than skill.
Few of the objectives are interesting. Your goat is hard to control and the glitchy environment is your greatest enemy.
For every jetpack and underground goatfighting ring, the game has a slew of frustrating glitches that impede your fun. I wouldn’t be surprised if the developers used comedy as an excuse to spend less time debugging, so they could ship the game before people on the Internet forgot about it.
Yet, it’s hard for me to hold poor gameplay against the game. Maybe it’s because I appreciate a silly game in a market saturated with gritty “me too” shooters. Maybe it’s because the game lets me play in a sandbox environment without shoving hours of half- baked cinematics down my throat.
But really, it’s because a goat riding a firework into the stratosphere is funny to all but the most hardhearted. Which is why I’m giving “Goat Simulator” a goat out of ten score.