Let’s wind the clocks back a few years and consider the protagonists we’ve been paired with in our favorite video games. We’ve had the classic male and female heroes, a round, yellow glutton, an anthropomorphic bandicoot, fox, raccoon and dragon, and even robots. Yet, many people were surprised and skeptical when a goat crossed the battlefield. Goats are essentially Satan’s minions and you need only interact with one for five minutes or less to understand this concept. They’re highly intelligent and curious little caprines with a taste for schadenfreude. In light of this, goats do have redeeming qualities: they’re kind of cute for a little while, their milk and cheese is utterly nutritious and they can prove to be useful help around the homestead. Goats can be trained to pull carts and they instinctively bleat at anything that moves, so one will easily be alerted to a trespasser in the middle of the night. However, despite these vast qualities, some people in Sweden decided to make a goat a video game character and highlight only their secret desires to wreck everything around them.
Swedish indie developer, Coffee Stain Studios, originally created Goat Simulator in January as a joke prototype, intended to serve as a parody of other strange simulation games such as Euro Truck Simulator and even Farming Simulator. It wasn’t until an influx of comments on YouTube after releasing footage of the game in its alpha state that prompted the team to put more people on the project and develop Goat Simulator as a full title to Steam. To maintain the heavy humor and satirical background, the game was released on April Fool’s Day, which prompted many people unfamiliar with the concept to scratch their heads in utter confusion. Perhaps that was the point.
It’s an absolutely strange concoction that doesn’t take itself seriously; it relies on the bugs, glitches and deliberate lack of effort in certain aspects to produce hilarious results. Coffee Stain Studios acknowledges this in the description on Steam, where it states, “Disclaimer: Goat Simulator is a completely stupid game and, to be honest, you should probably spend your money on something else, such as a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe pool your money together with your friends and buy a real goat.” They even address the vast number of bugs and glitches with a statement in the ‘key features’ section stating, “MILLIONS OF BUGS! We're only eliminating the crash-bugs, everything else is hilarious and we're keeping it.” Some people find it annoying, but it’s crystal clear that the people who find the same enjoyment out of the entire thing as the developers and I have are Coffee Stain’s targeted audience.
Goat Simulator is an experience that visually, is like any other simulation game – Surgeon Simulator, Farming Simulator and even Postal – but still manages to be beautiful. It plays, however, like a free-roam destruction rampage with ragdoll physics and a point multiplier to keep you in motion. You’ll rack up points for pretty much anything you smash, hit, ram, lick or wreck. Yes, I said lick. Your primary mode of attack and destruction is to either ram into everything and anything or run at a full speed and make yourself go limp, colliding with whatever is unfortunate enough to be in your path. Either way, you’re sending furniture and debris one way and people the other. In the real world, goats eat pretty much anything and this is reflected in the game, where you can lick anything and stick your tongue to it like an elastic adhesive and drag whatever – or let it drag you, depending on what it is – around town.
I spent my first few moments in Goat Simulator – or rather, my entire experience – being as much of an annoying savage as humanly possible, and that’s where I found the most enjoyment in the game. After pressing “the any key” and loading the game, you are first tasked with escaping the incredibly weak enclosure in the center of town. It was then that I appreciated the nod toward a goat’s behavior in the real world. Goats are naturally curious little creatures and can easily escape enclosures like chicken wire fences. I’ve never seen a goat jump over a chest-high picket fence before, but managing to knock the farmer over and bleat like the world was ending in the process of my escape was a wonderful accomplishment. To further add insult to injury, I stuck my tongue to the man and dragged him across the street, letting go just in time to watch him get struck by an oncoming car and sent hurdling through the air at terminal velocity.
Unfortunately for the citizens of the seemingly nameless town, that was only the start of my horrific antics. I interrupted a protest against penis shaped food, jumped off a trampoline and flung myself into a parked car, causing it to explode and burst a pedestrian into flames, and wreck the inside of someone’s house before leaping out of the window. That is only a scratch of the surface of your abilities in Goat Simulator. It’s a sinfully fun little game that serves as a great stress reliever and a foundation for a quality discussion among like-minded friends. Unless of course, you choose to spend your money on a real goat, then you’ll have to take the backseat and wait for the goat to do something interesting enough to discuss, opposed to making one say, sacrifice a human to the devil. I told you they were Satan’s minions.
Goat Simulator is available on Steam for $9.99 and in the words of the great Armin Ibrisagic, “Goats are the new zombies.”
Day 2 | Coffee Stain Studios