NOTICE: This review is extremely old and contains highly outdated information. Please take this into consideration before starting another ♥♥♥♥ing flame war in the comments.
Let’s get this first bit out of the way up in front: putting Goat Simulator on a traditional 1-to-10 rating scale is pretty much impossible.
Goat Simulator is something of a paradox. It's a haphazard conglomeration of shallow, half-♥♥♥♥♥ game mechanics that still somehow equals something much greater than the sum of its parts. Most bargain bin games last too long and don’t have any personality; Goat Simulator bleeds personality but wears itself out much too quickly.
In short, it’s like slamming down 20 bucks for half of a chocolate bar, but it’s the best damn chocolate bar you’ll ever have the pleasure of consuming.
The game prides itself on its broken ragdoll physics; headbutt a person and they’ll go flying off into the sunset with their limbs splayed all about, headbutt a gas station and you’ll go flying off into the sunset with your limbs splayed all about. The problem here is that ragdoll physics abuse has been present in video games for the last decade or so, ranging from dragging bodies around in Deus Ex Human Revolution
to blowing enemies sky-high in Just Cause 2
to… well, Garry’s Mod
, full stop. Everything you’re going to see in this game is something you’ve probably already seen before.
Perhaps the game’s biggest flaw is its scoring mechanics. Or, to be more specific, that the scoring mechanics don’t really mesh with the rest of the game all that well. By performing certain actions, such as ramming things, licking things, and jumping over things, you can combo these actions together to increase your score as well as extend your combo and gain score multipliers. However, most of the actions you can perform that won’t result in your goat ragdolling uncontrollably will stop increasing your score multiplier VERY quickly, and if you DO end up ragdolling, chances are high that you won’t be able to recover in time to extend your combo further anyways.
The most aggravating part of this discrepancy is that the actions that do result in you ragdolling uncontrollably – such as getting thrown into a trampoline by a rogue treadmill – are worth the most points out of any action in the game. This is only made worse once you realize that trying to earn a high score unlocks absolutely NOTHING. Compare to Saints Row IV
’s insurance fraud missions, where you have to abuse your ragdoll enough within a set amount of time in exchange for monetary and experience rewards.
Paradoxically, the game’s strongest point is its bizarre sense of humor, and I’m not referring to the cheap novelty of playing as a jelly-legged goat. The game’s too-small map is absolutely jam-packed with easter eggs and shout-outs. Destroying the gas station gets you the Michael Bay achievement. Bringing five people to a pentagram gives you the power to create gravity wells. Dragging a boulder in front of a normally indestructible car causes it to explode violently. Bringing a bacon-beacon to a crop circle causes a UFO to abduct you. There are rioters carrying signs that read “no penis-shaped food”. Standing inside an outhouse for three seconds nets you over a thousand points. There’s an anime robot hiding in a shipping container suspended by a crane. Doing nothing for five minutes turns you into a low-gravity angel goat. Coffee Stain Studios’ in-game building features a playable Flappy Bird
clone. The list goes on and on and on.
Because of the large amount of easter eggs present within the game, the game is at its most entertaining when you’re NOT throwing yourself around like a maniacal rubber squirrel. Finding many of the upgrades for your goat requires exploring the game’s environment, which itself requires a surprising amount of dexterity. There’s a Baseball Cannon nearby where you start the game, which you can strap to your back and fire at will. There’s also the Jet Pack hidden inside the construction site, which is about as useful as you’d expect from a game like this (it’s completely useless). Perhaps the most noteworthy of these collectables are the 30 goat trophies hidden across the map; every 10 trophies you collect will unlock a whole new species of goat for you to use: a giraffe, an ostrich, and an alien from Sanctum 2
. Quite a few of these trophies are legitimately challenging – and entertaining - to collect.
Perhaps the game’s greatest saving grace is the Steam Workshop integration. Though ironically (or perhaps fittingly), even getting THAT to work properly can be problematic – you’ll need to install the 64-bit version of the game’s executable, which comes with the game’s mod development kit. And even then, many of the custom maps available will still
cause the game to crash on startup.
Once you’ve gotten the bloody thing to WORK properly, however, it’s worthwhile. Some of the community-created add-ons are an absolute blast to use. There are mods that let you chuck explosive watermelons as fast as you can mash the use key, there are mods that turn you into a goat-shaped Nyan Cat, and there are mods that let you play pinball with the goat as the ball. Since the game is still brand new, much of the game’s potential has gone untapped. However, given some time, the possibility that a truly amazing game could evolve from these add-ons is extremely realistic… provided that said add-ons don’t freakin' crash the game.
Overall, the game itself honestly isn’t all that bad – it’s actually pretty entertaining, but for all the reasons that they DON’T mention on the game’s Steam Store page. The game’s biggest flaw isn’t that the game is broken, it’s that the game is… incomplete
. There’s a lot of stuff to see here, especially with the game’s Workshop integration, but the game’s core mechanics simply don’t mesh with each other very well (if at all). The game doesn’t even seem to know what its core audience is supposed to be – small children, experienced DOOM-era gamers, and programmers would probably find the game hilarious, but your average Angry Birds player will look at this game and wonder how the world became so full of stupid people.
If you’re the type of person who greatly enjoys making mods, enjoys breaking games in half, or simply needs a cheap laugh once in a while, then Goat Simulator may very well be one of the best games you’ll ever play. However, if you don’t fit into any of the above categories, then I regret to inform you that you’re probably better off spending your money on something else.
It’s a shame, really – there’s a fantastic game buried in here somewhere, it’s just that nobody’s found