Let’s set the record straight: despite its title, Goat Simulator is neither a simulator nor is it an accurate portrayal of goat life. Rather, it’s a game built around a seemingly one-note joke, but that actually has a surprising amount of depth. It’s the type of experience that many will dismiss based solely on a trailer or screenshot, but will still find an audience thanks to its absurd premise.
The general idea behind Goat Simulator is simple: players take control of a goat in a small suburban town and are given the freedom to do whatever they want. This goat can jump, lick, do tricks, head butt, sprint, and of course baa, but he’s also not your average specimen; he’s actually kind of an a-hole.
In our early impressions post for Goat Simulator we compared the game to Saints Row: The Third‘s ‘Insurance Fraud’ mini-game, wherein players rack up points by causing the most amount of chaos and damage possible. Every action, be it mischievous or downright malicious, comes with a point value, and completing these actions in quick succession helps boost the player’s overall score. Want to ram an innocent bystander? You can. Want to head butt a gas station and reduce it to a burning pile of rubble. You can do that too. There’s something so innately funny about watching a goat wreak havoc, and Goat Simulator revels in that and rewards the player accordingly.
Mechanically speaking, Goat Simulator is a bit of a mess, but that largely feels like part of its design. In fact, many of Goat Simulator‘s physics or collision problems don’t hinder the experience in the slightest, but add back to the madness of it all. Not once in my several hours of playing the game did the broken controls, physics, collision, or animation actually impact the gameplay. Instead these graphical “glitches” made me laugh harder.
At the same time, it’s easy to see Goat Simulator as the type of game that many players will load up, play around with for an hour, and be done with. There is no middle ground with this game – players will either buy into the absurdity or they won’t – but those who accept Goat Simulator will find that developer Coffee Stain Studios has put a lot of effort into making the game feel like more than a single joke.
For starters, the game creates some semblance of order through its objective system, but still allows for experimentation within those tasks. Players might be told to jump 6 meters into the air, for example, but it’s up to them to discover how best to complete said task. That could mean hopping on a trampoline for a few seconds or head butting a large canister of gasoline. Both actions get the job done and both are equally silly actions to watch a goat do.
Even then, once players have run through a bulk of the objectives, there is still plenty more exploring to do. What might seem like a fairly small level actually has a surprising amount of nooks and crannies, each offering a new and wholly unexpected experience. Some highlights include “Goat Fight Club” and a Flappy Bird clone called Flappy Goat, but trust us when we say there is a lot more to Goat Simulator than meets the eye. It’s also worth noting that the game features Steam Workshop support, but as of this writing most of the mods left us none too impressed.
Even so, players will get a good 2-4 hours out of the base game and plenty of laughs along the way. But once they have seen every joke there’s little incentive to go back, aside from maybe showing it to a friend. In other words, Goat Simulator might not be a one trick pony, but it’s also not a multifaceted tool.
That being said, what Coffee Stain Studios has managed to pull out of the concept is an impressive feat in and of itself. In a way, Goat Simulator calls to mind the other big “Simulator” game, Surgeon Simulator 2013, in that it doesn’t try to take players money and run. It acknowledges its silly premise and gets a surprising amount of mileage out of it. Only a very particular type of gamer will give Goat Simulator a try, but those who do will be pleasantly surprised.
Have you had a chance to check out Goat Simulator? What do you think? More than just a gimmick?
Goat Simulator is out now for the PC. Game Rant was provided a Steam code for this review.
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