Breaking My Backlog #14 – The Untitled Goose Game (Halloween Special, Part 3 of 4)

Please Note: In this review, I spoil the ending of goose game. I know, by now, it’s pretty hard to spoil a game that has become a cultural phenomenon in the way that the goose game has, but here’s your warning: You are now warned.

My journey to obtain the Untitled Goose Game was a bit of a round-about one. I haven’t bought a game in over a year, and that includes the Untitled Goose Game. However, I never said that someone else couldn’t buy the game, and if they did, it would be a great disservice to not play it. Such is the case with the Untitled Goose Game. My wife and I were driving home, and I was telling her about the goose memes I had seen on Twitter, memes I was in love with at the time (seriously, go look at my Twitter feed from about a month ago. It’s basically only goose memes and Trump hatred). Anyway, within the context, I explained what the Untitled Goose Game was, and how it had taken culture by storm.

A few hours later, I received a Paypal notification on my phone. Someone using my Switch had just bought the Untitled Goose Game. I didn’t do it, and I’m pretty sure my dog didn’t do it either. The mystery would soon be solved when I came downstairs, and my wife was laughing uncontrollably while playing the Switch. She was being a goose.

I actually held off on playing the game for a few days to give my wife time to complete it, which she did. It turned out to be October by the time I actually got around to it, which is fitting. Because I decided to spend all of October playing scary games, and the Untitled Goose Game is the scariest game I played all month.

Imagine, if you will, a small village terrorized by a goose. Like the great movie monsters in history, such as Freddie Kreuger, Pinhead, or Jason, the goose is a force to be reckoned with. She destroys lives and businesses. She steals from people, and tears down tenuous relationships between neighbors. She does all of this without a whit for the people she’s affecting, because the goose, my dear friends, is evil.

Now, to be fair to the goose, she isn’t evil for the sake of being evil; she does have purpose in what she does. It’s just that that purpose is one of personal desire. Specifically, the goose desires a beautiful miniature bell.

Traditionally, literature and narrative can be boiled down into six primary conflicts:

  1. Man vs. Self
  2. Man vs. Man
  3. Man vs. Nature
  4. Man vs. God
  5. Man vs. Society
  6. Man vs. Machine

It’s the third one I’m concerned with here. In her literary essays, The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand argues that Man vs. Nature is not a conflict, since nature has no free will or choice. I like to think the goose in the Untitled Goose Game would take issue with Rand for many reasons, not the least of which is this: The goose has free will, and the goose chooses to fuck with the town for the sake of this bell. The goose chooses to take what she wants, morality be damned. Hmm. Perhaps the goose has more in common with Randian philosophy than I previously thought.

At any rate, this game is a conflict of Man vs. Nature in the purest sense. In all its structure and society, humanity can do nothing to stop the goose from obtaining what it desires. In fact, the goose will purposefully go out of the way to steal humanity’s glasses, or force humanity to buy back its own toy airplane. The goose will trap the shopkeeper in the garage or set into motion a plan that eventually destroys humanity’s prize rose. We are all subject to the whims of the goose, she is our master.

The most common traditional Man vs. Nature stories are survival narratives, like Robinson Crusoe, Gilligan’s Island, or Castaway. You also find Man vs. Nature stories in disaster movies, like Twister, Volcano, or Poseidon Adventure. Even horror movies, like The Happening, attempt to tell a Man vs. Nature story with varying success. With Man vs. Nature stories, two common tropes occur. First, man is forced into a situation where he or she must contend with nature. Second, man ultimately overcome nature. Not everyone in the story will survive, but man (the collective) must come out on top in the end.

The Untitled Goose Game throws that second trope out the window. We are all subject to the whims of nature, and there is nothing we can do about it. We can only accept the fate we are given. When a goose chooses to steal our beautiful miniature bell, we can only let it happen. The horrifying nature of the goose becomes clearer in the post-game content. Once the goose finally steals the bell, it becomes clear that she’s done this multiple times. She’s stolen many, many bells from this village. Additionally, the goose receives a new to-do list of objectives, and these are truly naturalistic. There’s no purpose in these tasks, other than to just mess with the townspeople, and ultimately, they have no choice in the matter. They can only attempt to survive this new dystopic world, subject to whatever the goose chooses to do.

And if that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, I don’t know what will.

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