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GOAT SIMULATOR Bleating good

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Formats: PC (Reviewed)

Price: $9.99 (Steam)

Developer: Coffee Stain Studios

On its announcement, Goat Simulator felt like either the apex of the internet meme machine or something approaching its nadir. The product of an inhouse contest held by Swedish game developer, Coffee Stain Studios, to come up with demos for potential projects, Goat Simulator started as a lark until someone came up with the idea to actually market this cheesy little time-waster as a legitimate release. Capitalizing on the current trend of weirdly prosaic simulator games churned out by obscure European software companies – complete with box art that replicates the stock-photo-with-stock-font aesthetic of these sim games – Goat Simulator immediately caught the attention of the Internet even if in reality, it kind of fluffs the punchline of the joke it sold itself on.

This is because Goat Simulator doesn’t actually simulate anything, at least to any degree that resembles realism. You play a goat. You run around causing various forms of havoc, usually involving the headbutting of stuff to splinters. That’s pretty much it. Even the physics is wildly heightened, the game actually wearing its shambolic, technically unpolished condition as part of the joke. You even get an achievement for causing it to crash to the desktop which, given the general outcry about unfinished and bug-ridden games recently, could be either obnoxious or brilliant (The smart money’s probably on ‘A bit of both’).

The actual gameplay is not too far removed from those browser games you get a giggle out of for an hour then burn out on, never to touch them again. Two factors help bit a little more meat on Goat Simulator’s shanks, however. The first is a score system that much like the old Tony Hawk skating games, awards multipliers and bonuses for ‘tricks’ achievable with the vast range of breakables, lickables and generally-mess-uppables packed into the game’s fairly compact map.

The other factor is the handful of side activities scattered around the place, all discovered through exploration and all plumbing a more refined and inspired level of crazy than the basic ‘run and butt’ action. These activities are few but inject a much-needed dose of invention into the game and stumbling upon them provides its most memorable moments – so good are they in fact, that going back to the Jackass-style rampaging after they’re complete feels like a bit of a letdown.

But by then you’ll have wrung a couple of hours out of the game which, if you’re in the mood for some rampant chaos with a twisted streak, will give you a good enough time for your ten bucks. Coffee Stain have announced that they will be adding splitscreen multiplayer and a new map in a patch next month, but the real test of Goat Simulator’s longevity will be its integration with Steam’s Workshop feature and what mods the community might dream up. For now, however, Goat Simulator is more of a graze than a feast.

6/10

CAVAN GALLAGHER

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