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"It's a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose." As elevator pitches for games go, it's kind of beautiful. Perfect. Irresistible. So it's no surprise that Australian studio House House simply had to turn a dream into reality with their unexpected(?) hit indie game of 2019, Untitled Goose Game.
We reviewed Untitled Goose Game on its release in September, calling it "a deceptively deep sandbox stealth puzzler with some of the funniest and most satisfying moments you'll experience in a game this year". We stuck a 9/10 score on the bottom of our words, and you can guarantee that it'll feature in our Games of the Year list, when that rolls out in December. Well, I say "guarantee" - the votes are still being counted, but surely, surely, the horrible goose will make the cut.
But now, according to a deep and detailed report on Kotaku, it turns out that the gaming world's favourite winged terroriser of quaint boozers, village convenience stores and bespectacled children might not be all it seems to be. Writer Gita Jackson has spoken to two experts on all things geese, and they say that making mischief really isn't a priority for these birds. (Unlike, say, the seagulls of Brighton, which you'd say can get in the sea, but the b*stards float.)
One of these experts, Isabella Scheiber (PhD in behavioural ecology and who's studied geese for seven years) confirmed that the aggressive posture of the horrible goose in Untitled Goose Game is pretty much spot on. But she added that, in real life, geese can move a lot faster than what we see in the game - so could actually be scarier than what we see in the colourful indie title.
But she downplayed the violent side of geese - all of the honking and the stealing and the chasing kids into phone boxes and making landlords fall on their arses and all the rest of it - by stating that wild geese don't much care for us humans. And even geese that have grown up alongside people are more curious than horrible.
She did tell Jackson that young geese have been known to steal, however: "Particularly as juveniles, they are very nosy and they love to pull on things like strings, long hair, earrings... We also had them steal data sheets, which they happily run around with."
Generally speaking, though, Scheiber is adamant that the actions of the horrible goose in Untitled Goose Game aren't in keeping with how these animals behave, for real. And another expert that Jackson spoke to, who didn't give their name, actually thinks that House House's game could be damaging for the reputation of geese. They stressed that, unless provoked, geese are not aggressive.
Not-Often-Angry Goose Game... Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? Anyway, Untitled Goose Game is a good game, a very good goose game, and it's out now, so you should play it and revel in all the naughty tomfoolery and brazen theft that its star can indulge in. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and unlike picking a fight with a real horrible goose (or those Brighton seagulls), you've little to no chance of losing an eye.
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