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Review: Goat Simulator

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 10 and up
Genre: Simulation / Open world
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2014
Review Published On: January 26th, 2019
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Whenever you start the game, the game's world is completely reset. However, any goats or areas you've unlocked remain available. Your progress through the quests in the MMO Simulator DLC is also recorded automatically.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The main point of this game is just to have fun and mess around, which typically involves using your goat to cause mayhem.

There are also references to religion, such as a satanic-looking pentacle, which can turn you into a demon-goat if you sacrifice humans on it.


[view screenshot]
Up up and away!

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Entering the arena

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I hope nobody needed that...

Game Overview

When people make games, it's usually because they have some great creative vision or idea they want to express. Goat Simulator, on the other hand, started out as little more than a quick joke. For a bit of fun, a developer took a game engine designed to make open world games and shoved a goat into the place of the protagonist. Since the engine was expecting the protagonist to be a bipedal humanoid, things broke down really quickly. A video of this bug ridden disaster was posted online, and a surprising amount of interest built up around it. People found the "game" pretty hilarious and wanted to play the "game" themselves, which resulted in the goofy demo becoming the basis for an actual product.

Since a lot of the appeal had been the utterly broken physics and buggy behavior, the developers only fixed serious issues. The rest of the bugs were intentionally left in, and more often than not, actively embraced. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, so it's still possible to find a bug that'll crash the game. On the plus side, if you ever run across such a problem, you'll be treated to a new achievement.

Gameplay wise, the title says it all: You control a goat. That's about it. You can walk or run around, headbutt some things, lick other things, or if you really want to, you can have your goat bleat. You can also have your goat ragdoll. This ability is based on something that happens in many games when a character is defeated: their in-game model collapses, much like a doll made out of old rags would flop around. Here it can happen on demand, can help you get loose if you accidentally get your goat stuck on something.

Another quirk of the game is that you can unlock new goats by performing certain actions. Each playable goat has its own attributes, and many also feature new abilities. An easily found example of this is the Goat Queen. Whenever the Goat Queen bleats, a "peasant" goat is summoned to her side. Or to be more specific, a random goat falls out of the sky and flops lifelessly on the ground nearby. This isn't the most useful ability, but then again, it's just there to be funny. A much more interesting ability is available to the Magician Goats (from the MMO Simulator DLC). These goats can launch huge fireballs at anything you want, causing a lot of mayhem from a distance. They also have an unusually floaty and high jump, allowing them to wander off to places where no goat has gone before.

Ultimately, this is simply a game where sanity is greatly overrated, chaos is rewarding, and everything is just another toy to be played with. On the down side, you can only do so much with a goat before it stops being funny, and once you reach that point, there's little reason to continue playing. The other major issue is that there is some unexpectedly offensive content hiding in both the main game and the DLC packages.

Points of Interest

More goats than you can handle
At first, you'll only have the original, normal goat to play with. This is already more than enough to rain down unending chaos upon the world, but throughout every area there are other goats you can find and unlock. Once you've performed the correct action, your current goat will change appearance and gain any new powers that new goat possesses. This allows you to "stack" the abilities of many goats onto one, all-powerful beast.

Additionally, when you're starting a new game, you can choose to play as any of the goats you've previously discovered. This way, you'll always keep whatever strange and wonderful abilities you've found.
A true sandbox
There's no actual goal in this game. You're just here to have fun and play around with whatever objects tickle your fancy. Each map is covered with toys, set pieces, and even hidden collectibles of all sorts, so there's plenty to do. The main game does have a list of quests for you to attempt, though there's no pressure or reason to bother.

On the other hand (hoof?) the MMO Simulator DLC features more traditional quests -- the kind where you talk with an NPC, go out into the world, complete your objective, and then return for some pointless reward. The Waste of Space DLC also features something of an objective: you're running a crowd funding campaign to explore space. In this DLC, you earn money instead of points.
Steam community features
As mentioned elsewhere, there are achievements that can be earned as you trot around the various cities. Most of them involve collecting items or performing specific actions as a specific goat, but the most notable achievement is earned by finding a way to crash the entire game. Regardless, the description of each achievement will explain what you need to do in order to earn that achievement.

There is also a set of Steam trading cards for you to collect, and support for [mods] via the Steam Workshop. That said, it doesn't look like modders are that interested in this title.
Not the most stable of games
Many of the bugs are enjoyable in some way, but occasionally you will stumble across one that will cause the game to crash. These serious bugs seem to be more common in the Waste of Space DLC, but I'm sure you'll find a few in the rest of the game as well. Fortunately, there's no progress to lose, as the game resets the map every time you restart the game. Also, any new goats you unlock remain unlocked, even if your game crashes.
Can get boring fairly quickly
One of the major downsides to the sandbox game design concept is that many players need some direction or a goal to pursue in order to keep them interested. Since Goat Simulator lacks these elements, players might start having trouble finding ways to amuse themselves, and that's when they'll move on to something else.

Concerns and Issues

Mischief is rewarding
There is a scoring system, so as you play around, different actions will earn you points. Causing destruction and mayhem is generally the easiest way to earn a lot of points quickly, even if it's not the most ethical way to behave. That said, I have to admit that the shenanigans you can get up to are often pretty hilarious, even if they aren't the nicest.
Since the protagonist is just a bleating goat, there are essentially only two places in the game where you can encounter swearing. The first and most noticeable instance will be the messages that appear when you perform a "trick" and get bonus points. Each trick has a unique name, and these names can include swearing.

Another other place you'll sometimes find profanity is in the (fake) in-game chat seen in the MMO DLC. Various other "players" and NPCs may use bad language when talking to each other or the player.

If you don't care for this sort of thing, there is an option to censor the swearing in the game's options menu.
Toilet humor
While a lot of the funny moments come from getting into crazy antics (or in the case of the MMO DLC, making fun of online gaming), there are inevitably some jokes around bodily functions. Whether it's a guy urinating into the community pool or a poor farmer trapped under a huge pile of fresh manure, if someone thought it was funny, it was included.
A reference to drugs / mind altering substances
The elves in the MMO Simulator DLC spend much of their time licking things. This is basically a joke about the game's mechanics (ie, you pick up objects by having your goat lick them), but it goes one step further. Many of the elves are experiencing side effects from licking objects -- some are acting like chickens, others are acting like snails, and so on. Clearly, something they licked caused them to become rather high.
References to Hell and demons
Two of the goats you can unlock in the main game are the Angel goat and the Devil goat. The former is earned by being a good little goat for a few minutes, so there's nothing too shocking or problematic about that. On the other hand, the Devil goat is unlocked by sacrificing several people at a hidden pentacle. This pentacle even has a goat's head in the center, which normally means that it's an explicit satanic reference. Here, the goat's head may just be a reference to the overall theme of the game (goats are everywhere, after all), but it's definitely an uncomfortable surprise. You'll see this pentacle again in the MMO Simulator DLC, as you'll use it to spawn an unholy dodo bird monster.

Another, much more subtle, reference can be found on the original map. This location features a road with two exits. Each exit features a sign indicating where the road goes if you were to travel that direction. These read "Him Len" and "Helvete", which is Swedish for "Heaven" and "Hell". This would indicate that your goat is actually in purgatory, and judging by the distances on the signs (Helvete is 2 kilometers closer than Him Len), they are much closer to spending eternity in Hell.

On a less disturbing note, the MMO Simulator DLC features an area where you can fight demons, much like any fantasy themed game out there. Note that they'll just respawn a few moments later, so any victory in this lava filled ruin is completely meaningless.
A little bit of blood and gore
This is mostly restricted to the GoatZ DLC, as it's based around a zombie apocalypse. For example, the zombie goat has pieces of its skin missing, showing bones and muscle tissue. Zombie humans often have some red stains on their clothing as well.