Up to a point, you know what you’re getting into when you fire up a game called “Goat Simulator” (Xbox One; $9.99; Rated T). If you think for even a split second that it’s a game you’re going to take seriously, you’re mistaken. This is not a game that will stay with you through the years, giving you stories and memorable experiences that you’ll impart to your children or grandchildren.
This is a game about being a goat – a goat that is both a jerk and utterly invincible. The entire point – if you choose to believe there is a point at all – is to wreak as much havoc as possible and rack up big points along the way.
It all comes off as either stupid or hilarious – or both – depending on how you approach the game.
Walk around and break stuff
The “stupid” is most often displayed in the game’s many bugs, which developer Coffee Stain Studios insists are intentional because the bugs make for hilarious in-game situations. While this is often true, as in the case where our hero goat’s tongue flies all over the map, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where taking four tries just to start the game at all comes off as funny. Software bugs can be entertaining, yes, but mostly they’re just annoying.
Flat-out “hilarious” moments are more rare, but they leave a longer impression. For instance, finding a dance party to smash up at the top of a skyscraper is entertaining enough on its own, but it hits a new level when you knock electronic music personality Deadmau5 off the top of that skyscraper and don his trademark Mickey ears. All of this hits the screen so quickly that the player is overwhelmed by the surreal feel of what’s going on, and the only possible response is to laugh.
Most of the time, though, you (as the goat) walk around and headbutt things, jump over things, ride things and so on. It’s fun at first just because it’s so weird; but weird dries up quickly in terms of entertainment value. There are also time trials and races to find, and a whole bunch of little trinkets to happen upon, but mostly, it’s a game where you walk around and break stuff.
The Xbox One version of the game tones down many of the more unsavory bits of the PC original – things like the profane (yet appropriately hilarious) slogan that flashes across the screen when you jump over the fence of the top-secret facility … and the semi-vulgar signs of the protesters. It also, unfortunately, doesn’t incorporate the MMO expansion that hit the PC version last September. Really, if you have access to Steam, the PC version remains the more “complete” version.
‘Goat’ will make you smile
Still, in any version, “Goat Simulator” is the sort of game that is near-impossible to criticize. On the “Goat Simulator” official Xbox.com description sheet, Coffee Stain recommends spending your money on something else. “Like a hula hoop,” they say.
It doesn’t matter if a game can’t be taken seriously if it was never meant to be taken seriously. The real question is whether it’s worth ten bucks to own a curiosity that, best-case-scenario, will only give you four or five hours of bug-filled entertainment. It is a transient, short-lived, utterly disposable experience. But it will also make you smile, and often.
Maybe that alone is worth the ten bucks.
New This Week: It’s a big week for current-generation re-releases of last-generation games. “Tropico 5” (PS4) shows up on a Sony console for the first time, while “State of Decay” (XONE) graduates from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One.