I have seen the future, and it is Goat Simulator.
If my vision plays out, soon enough we’ll all be playing Goat Simulator on a global scale. Wars will immediately cease, global happiness will spike, as humanity collectively freaks out over one of the most madcap video game experiences of all time.
For the uninitiated: Goat Simulator follows a simple premise. You control a goat, who runs around a suburban environment, complete with cars, a gas station and a construction zone. Within this space, you have complete destructive power using said goat.
If the above doesn’t already sounds absurd enough for you, the level of destructive capability you have within this environment is staggering. One glorious feature allows you to latch the goat’s stupidly long tongue to nearly any object in the environment. Whether this means swinging a street sign around your head or grabbing one of the humans and dragging them in front of a moving truck, you’re doing things no real goat could ever dream of.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The goat is also capable of headbutting almost anything in sight. Whether this means throwing one of the neighborhoods many humans high into the air, or launching into a gas station and causing a “Michael Bay”-level destruction (which is an accomplishment within the game), you’ve got plenty of opportunities for creative demolition.
One of the most entertaining features of the game is the ability to put the world in super slow-mo. This comes in handy when attempting some of the dumbest feats within the game, letting them unfold film-like in front of your eyes. One particularly memorable slow-mo moment came as I jumped off a crane towards a hang glider, attempting to latch onto it. After just missing the wings with my outstretched tongue, I saw myself gently tumble through the air, eventually crashing to the ground with a satisfying crunch. Within seconds, I was back up and running around, as if nothing even happened.
For an independently produced game, the environment has a surprisingly large scope. One of the most satisfying features of the game is how inviting it is on return visits, with some new hidden area or item waiting to be found. I won’t give too much away here, but it’s worth your time to look around carefully for the jetpack, which takes some searching to find but quickly becomes one of the greatest power-ups dispersed throughout the game.
One of the greatest aspects of this game is how deliberately low-stakes it is. The game's developer, Coffee Stain Productions, has made no claim for it to be anything other than a ridiculous, glitchy romp, with no real aim other than total destruction. This charmingly simple premise is a great credit to the game, making it clear to players that they shouldn't be there for anything but lighthearted, carefree chaos.
With that in mind, there were some problems I encountered while playing. At least for now, the game has only been developed for Windows computers, although an official Mac port is in the works. Also, the game was occasionally choppy and slow. That being said, I’m sure the official version will be much smoother, and the developers will work with the Mac’s differences in controls to make the experience more intuitive.
It takes a lot to make me feel like a kid these days. For most adults, the concept of pure, unaltered joy without any sense of self-consciousness is basically an illusion. Yet Goat Simulator constantly had me giggling and shrieking like a six-year-old with a pony at their birthday party. Not only did this giddiness feel completely real, those who were curious at my seemingly unexplainable behavior quickly became enraptured watching the action as soon as I showed them what I was doing. If the world were to simultaneously rediscover their inner child through the magic of Goat Simulator, we’d all be in a much better place.