Goat Simulator is difficult to review. If you see reviews as a buyer’s guide or consumer report of sorts then you’re probably wondering if it’s worth your hard earned/illegally gained cash to see a goat jump off a crane. If finances are of little concern for you, and you like your reviews to simply confirm whether a game is “fun” or not then, yes, Goat Simulator is “fun”. If you like reviews to explore the deeper themes and meanings behind a game’s narrative, well, this is Goat Simulator, and I’m not Superman.
To be perfectly honest, your mileage with Goat Simulator will depend heavily on two factors. The first: Do you think goats are funny? The second: Do you think bugs, in the context of video games and not the animal kingdom, are funny? If you answered “Yes” to both of the above, it’s likely you will adore Goat Simulator for the idiotic, nonsensical, YouTube-bait game it is. After all, it’s not like anyone really wanted to simulate standing in a field eating grass.
If you’re somehow unfamiliar, Goat Simulator falls into the Surgeon Simulator camp of simulation games. The game begins with a reference to The Simpsons: “Press the Any Key,” which pretty much sets you up for the tone of Goat Simulator. The developers know it’s stupid, and the audience knows it’s stupid. You can’t win or lose Goat Simulator. You play as a goat, and your goal is simple: rampage across a suburban sandbox setting, wreaking havoc and mayhem. That’s really all there is to it. You are a goat. Now smash stuff.
Coffee Stain Studios actually issued this disclaimer before the game was released: “Goat Simulator is a small, broken and stupid game. It was made in a couple of weeks, so don’t expect a game in the size and scope of GTA with goats. In fact, you’re better off not expecting anything at all actually. To be completely honest, it would be best if you’d spend your $10 on a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe a real-life goat.” All of this is absolutely true, and yet Goat Simulator‘s sandbox world actually feels fairly large and varied. It’s no Just Cause 2, but within a relatively small space, one can find a zero gravity research facility, construction site, BBQ party, crop circles, a water park and loads of other places to wreak goatly mayhem.
Our goat-tastic hero can head-butt humans off of cranes, attach his sticky tongue to cars, get towed along the road and declare himself king of the goats within Goat Castle. By completing certain hidden tasks, one can unlock new powers for the goat like Satanic Goat powers or a jet pack. Although these sound suitably over the top, my favourite goat power was actually that of “Tall Goat,” a power that simply turns the goat into a giraffe. There are also moments where the goat can take advantage of the trampolines, mattresses, cars, giant fans and boulders in order to enact his vengeful goat will upon an oppressive human world. Each of these “set-pieces” is accompanied by some pretty hilarious on-screen messages (e.g. cause a series of explosions, and receive “MICHAEL BAY”). True enough, Goat Simulator is sandbox gaming at its logical conclusion; anything you could ever want to do as a goat, you can now do.
Although the “point” of the game is simply to wreck the game’s world, there are some individual “tasks” one can complete, though all of them are optional. These effectively resemble the tasks one would find in a Skate or Tony Hawk game – i.e. perform a successful 720 flip, or achieve 6 seconds of airtime. This adds something of an actual goal or challenge to Goat Simulator, though it’s rarely as fun as sliding down a water slide and crashing into bins.
I feel a little odd pointing out that Goat Simulator is full of glitches and bugs because it’s supposed to be. The goat regularly hits the ground too hard and sinks beneath it, and his neck rarely functions as a neck should. Every bug is funny, and every bug was intentionally left in for the purposes of humour. How can one point out that a game is bad when the ones who created it know it’s bad?
That leaves me with the difficult task of actually scoring Goat Simulator. Is it fun? Hell yes. Can I be a goat? Hell yes. Is it broken? Hell yes. Do we care? Hell no. Shall we call it four stars and say that Goat Simulator does exactly what it intends to do? Or, shall we call it one star because it’s possibly one of the most pointless things anyone could spend their time playing or creating? No, we’re going to do the first one. Baaa.