IT & Systems Management

Goat Simulator review: Goat + physics sandbox = dumb fun

What kind of madness hath the Internet wrought this time? Something dumb. Real dumb--and yet something hilariously fun at the same time.

That something is Goat Simulator, which began life as a silly Internet video but blossomed into a full game due to public demand.

At its core, Goat Simulator is just a physics engine with a goat as the main character. All the hilarity of Goat Simulator comes from setting up those physics pins and then knocking them back down, most likely with the goat's flailing, braying body.

Want to see a goat get hit by a car? Want to see a goat jump on a trampoline? Want to see a goat go down a waterslide, land on a trampoline, and then headbutt a car until it explodes? Hopefully your answers are "Yes," "Yes," and "Oh hell yes," or you might as well stop reading this review right now and go play something more serious. Goat-hater.

Yes, this is a game where you can do all the dumb things I listed above and so much more. While Goat Simulator never really transcends to become more than a goat-starring physics sandbox, Coffee Stain Studios has at least packed this playground with a ton to do.

Goat Simulator is deceptively simple--so much so that I'm worried people will miss the best parts. It would be all too easy to boot the game, run around for a bit, headbutt a few dumpsters, maybe blow up a car or two, and then think you've seen all there is to be seen. Because the game already has a reputation as a physics sandbox with a goat, the natural inclination is to play, see it is indeed a physics sandbox with a goat, and then wonder why the heck you bought this thing.

The element of sur-baas

I've never been surprised by a game as many times in as short a period as I was with Goat Simulator. Every corner, every nook and cranny, is packed with secrets. I'd be remiss if I spoiled a single of the game's secrets, because the whole experience relies on traipsing around the map like some sort of Vas-goat da Gama.

But wow. If you enjoyed The Stanley Parable's brand of "Can I do this? Oh wow, not only can I do this but there's an entire joke hidden here," type of mayhem, you're going to love this insane goat world. Goat Simulator is neither as eloquent nor erudite as The Stanley Parable, and it's more a sketch show than social commentary, but boy did it make me laugh a lot.

I mean, tears streaming out of my eyes laughing. There's even video proof out there on the Internet somewhere. Between this, Jazzpunk, Octodad, and The Stanley Parable, did we finally figure out how to do comedy in games? It certainly seems that way.

Even with its abundance of secrets, however, Goat Simulator feels a bit thin on content. Not distressingly so, but as the creators say on their website, "don't expect a game in the size and scope of GTA with goats." You'll probably get two, maybe three hours of laughs out of the whole thing.

It's also pretty easy to slow the game to a crawl. Since the game relies on its physics, you can make your computer chug by running into a crowded room and headbutting freely. For the most part the game ran fine on my rig (steady 30+ frames per second, high settings) but I did tank it down below 10 frames per second with some especially goat-y rampages.

Bottom line

Goat Simulator aims for the moon and ends up hitting a car instead, its bruised and battered body rocketing towards the stars while everyone points and laughs. Of course, the goat will have the last braying laugh when it plummets back towards our mocking faces and headbutts us through a fence.

It's hilarious. It's dumb. It's everything the Internet demanded. Goat Simulator gets at a fundamental human desire--we like to break things. And then watch those things explode. And then baa over the burning remnants.


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