If you have logged into Steam recently, you have undoubtedly noticed that there are simulators for just about every single type of activity. Farming? Check. Warehouse and Logistics? Of course! This trend is obviously ripe for parody, so it made sense that the April 1st release of Goat Simulator on Steam last year became a hit. Now over a year after everyone has had their laugh about a game being called Goat Simulator, the game has arrived on Xbox One. Is the joke still worth laughing about or has the initial novelty worn off?
Despite being called a simulator, Goat Simulator is an open-world sandbox game that throws realism out the door. Your goat can be made to headbutt and lick objects, go into a ragdoll animation at any time, jump and even slow down time as if he was Viewtiful Joe himself. While these mechanics may not seem to be the most interesting, the way they interact with the game's physics produce some of the more ridiculous moments you may ever see in gaming. All of these moments earn you points as Goat Simulator employs a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater style combo system that scores the player. These points don't really add anything to the game, but they do give a slight sense of accomplishment.
This would be a good time to point out that Goat Simulator is completely broken. Developer Coffee Stain Studios clearly cranked the physics up to eleven and never looked back. While the ridiculous physics are hilarious, the game's technical issues are less so. The game features a constant pop-in of objects that is so ridiculous that it left us thinking that it may have been an inside meta joke by the developer. The pop-in isn't just for objects in the distance, though, as simple items a few feet in front of your goat will appear with no warning.
When the player isn't getting stuck in a poorly mapped environment, they are tasked with either exploring the game's two cities at their own leisure or completing the many in-game goals. These goals can range from getting hit by a car to performing goat acrobatics in the air.
Hidden in each level are dozens of jokes. While they sometimes miss their mark, several will elicit a chuckle. Sometimes these jokes are simple sight gags, but others are more complex, such as a fully playable Flappy Bird clone called Flappy Goat. There is a lot to see within the game, so it is a real shame that the game makes it so difficult to actually view it at times.
While the general broken nature of Goat Simulator actually makes the game even funnier than it already is, it makes it a complete chore to actually get something done inside of the game. If you want to see some of the funniest jokes in the game you usually have to work to see them, which means completing tasks in an exact manner. Want to conduct a human sacrifice? You'll have to drag five different people across the level to a specific location, all the while hoping that they don't get randomly stuck on the terrain or that your goat drops them for no real reason. Simple tasks turn burdensome quickly.
The real issue with Goat Simulator isn't that the joke falls flat, as it can be genuinely hilarious the first time around. It is that after spending any real time with the title, the joke that is the gameplay becomes more frustrating than hilarious. Seeing your goat glitch into an area is funny the first time, but a nuisance the fifth time.
There is some replayability here for players who haven't had their fill after a few hours. There are several different goat skins, each with their own abilities, that players can unlock. These include demonic goats that can summon goats from the sky and even goats that can summon a bit of dubstep with a press of a button. These modifiers are a lot of fun to see, but they don't really add a ton to the experience.
Also found within the game's two levels are vehicles that your goat can ride. While it is funny to see your goat ride a bike, they control so poorly that they are impractical to use. Vehicles also have a nasty habit of getting caught up and rendered immovable by the slightest object. A few missions are also thrown in, such as timed high score challenges and races, but these are not fun in the slightest.
All said, the first hour of playing Goat Simulator is absolutely magical. You'll laugh at just how absurd the game is, you might even start producing tears in your eyes. Sadly, this feeling is a fleeting one and it doesn't last at all. Throw in the fact that the PC version of the game features more content, including the Goat MMO Simulator DLC, for the same exact price and it makes the Xbox One version seem like a bit of a let-down.
Goat Simulator's greatest achievement is that it somehow exists on a console, which, admittedly, is pretty darned awesome. While it may not be a great game, it shows a lot more heart than most games do. Even if it doesn't succeed in being much more than a one-note joke, Goat Simulator shows that being at the right place at the right time can help a game blow up in popularity. That being said, one year later on Xbox One, with less content, is neither of these.
It is rather strange to review a game that is clearly a joke and described on its own site as "a small, broken and stupid game," but Goat Simulator is competing for people's money with everything else on the Xbox Games Store. The game is good for a few laughs, but when there are funnier games on the same system that actually play well, then there really isn't a way to recommend it. The idea here is great, so it is a shame that the actual game isn't. Ultimately, Goat Simulator is a hilarious mess that is worth experiencing for a few hours, just one you probably shouldn't buy.