Have you ever wanted to be a horrible goose? Me neither. But here’s your chance. Untitled Goose Game is a game where you play as a goose that messes up everyone’s day. I have a lot of thoughts about this game because it does some really innovative things… and it also frustrates the tar out of me personally. If you’re unfamiliar with this game, you play as a goose that has a to-do list to accomplish. You accomplish these zany tasks by puzzling out how to get them done and avoiding the humans who try to get in your way. It’s best described as a puzzle-stealth-simulator. So, if you’re visually impaired, can you be a horrible goose?
I am reviewing the Switch version of this game. The game is also available on Mac and PC.
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long. I primarily play in handheld mode so I can hold the screen closer. I tend to play on my long commute with no sound because I need to keep my ears free to listen for my stop to be announced.
Visual Characteristics 9/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
Untitled Goose Game is illustrated in a cel-shading style that intentionally makes things look very flat. This is actually very helpful visually. Some better outlines wouldn’t go amiss, but the color palette helped a lot. I wasn’t expecting the color palette to help, because it is pretty toned-down. However, the lack of garish colors kept the eye fatigue down to next to nothing. I didn’t experience any color bleeding or glare. The lighting was perfect.
Tracking wasn’t perfect, but because the only things that move on their own are NPC people, who are plenty big to see, I am not taking any points off for this. Making the people more distinctive color-wise would help, though. Give them some more exciting clothes or a hat. Give some thought to their background and make sure their outfits aren’t the same color.
Clutter isn’t too bad either for the most part. Because you can interact with pretty much every asset in the game, they kept the number of assets down. There are a few areas that can be a little cluttered: tables and chairs, greenery, etc. But while they can be cluttered, you have plenty of context clues to identify the objects, so I’m not taking off too much for that.
Accessibility Features 10/10
Y’all. Y’ALL. There’s a ZOOM function. And it isn’t even an accessibility mode! It’s part of the gameplay mechanic!
Okay, self. Backup.
This is exciting, y’all. Give me a sec.
So, while you go around being a horrible goose, you sometimes need to pick up small things. Other times you need to sneak around people, so you want to stay as far away from them as possible. You can accomplish this by using the trigger buttons. One zooms in and one zooms out. You have the choice to hold the triggers down to maintain that particular zoom level or switch it to a toggle. Most importantly, IT’S A ZOOM FUNCTION. If you need to zoom in to identify a small object, you can. Within the game.
Beyond the zoom function, you can even specify if the camera focuses on just you, the goose, or tries to also keep the NPCs in frame when possible. This can be very helpful if you need help maintaining focus on your character.
Another thing I’ll say on the visual characteristics is that nearly all of the objects have a lot of context around them to help you figure out what they are. You’re looking for vegetables? Why don’t you try looking on the ground in a fenced garden? Looking for silverware? Look on a table. You can use real-world logic in locating objects in the game for most things, and that makes it much more intuitive.
You can also change the game font to be able to read your to-do list. You can’t use the in-game zoom function on the to-do list for some weird reason, but it pauses the game, so you can use the console’s zoom function on it. The accessible font is a really nice bold sans-serif font. The standard font is absolutely terrible, so don’t even bother trying. It’s a weird cursive-looking thing.
The score for the game is an auto-generated dynamic score, and it is glorious! The score actually really helps you out. For one, it really creates an aesthetic for the game. For two, it helps cue you when people are coming close. In some cases, it even helps you realize you’re getting close to an object you’re looking for. They really put some thought into the score, and it’s just the coolest thing. You do have to pay attention pretty closely to it to get these cues, though.
They also made decent use of rumble. When you get in trouble, it’ll vibrate. I’d have liked to see it rumble before you got in trouble to warn you, but it doesn’t give you enough time. However, it is another layer of feedback to help you, and it’s still really good.
I’m going to go ahead and give this game a perfect score because it is so innovative in the score and zoom departments.
Assist Modes 0/10
Here’s the one thing about the game that I have to complain about accessibility-wise. There’s no assist mode. And I really needed one.
So… I don’t like puzzle games like this. And I hate stealth games. That is not this game’s fault. But the reason I dislike stealth games is I think they’re harder when you can’t see well. I don’t move with stealth in real life or in video games. And there are a lot of times in this game where you need to be stealthy. On top of that, the puzzles can be downright hard to figure out.
After doing some walkthrough-watching, I don’t think that visually impaired folks are at any significant disadvantage in the stealth mechanic. It looks like pretty much everyone gets their stuff stolen by the NPCs. I found this very frustrating to the point of giving up, but I’m going to write it off as my dislike of stealth games and not as any sort of accessibility issue.
That said, an assist mode would have been nice. There are some secret passages that I only found by watching walkthroughs and it would have made the game way easier. An assist mode could have made the NPCs more myopic, made them slower, given you some helpful arrows if you wandered around for too long, rumbled when you got close to an object you needed, or added hints to the to-do list if you asked for them. But as it is, this didn’t give you any help in the core mechanics.
Non Visual Cues 9.5/10
I’ve already talked about the dynamic score being the most innovative non-visual thing happening. I wanted to give this category full marks just for that, but I’m going to knock off half a point because I think the rumble could be better utilized. My complaints about rumble aren’t really complaints, though. It could just be slightly more awesome.
Decent Fonts 10/10
The optional sans-serif font is really good. Use that one. And since you can use the console’s zoom function for the to-do list, it’s even better.
Necessity of Text 7/10
(The higher the rating, the less necessary the text is)
So… I wasn’t really sure how to score this one. The text in the to-do list is absolutely critical to the game. However, once you’ve read it, you don’t need any text at all besides the opening menu. Since the font is so good and the console zoom function can be used on it, I’m going to rate this category well so it doesn’t throw off the review in a way that feels unjustified.
That said, if you don’t want to read anything at all, pick a different game. You’re gonna need to read the to-do list.
Handheld Play 10/10
There’s nothing that inhibits handheld play at all aside from working with the smaller screen, which is just the nature of the beast.
Level of Precision Required 9/10
I have mixed feelings here. The hit boxes are actually pretty generous. And if the people are chasing you, there are ways to hide from them if you don’t completely lose your mind with panic like I do. However, you do have to move a lot of little objects to specific locations. The main precision required is the timing elements. It really helps you if you can see if an NPC is looking at you so you know if you can sneak past them. And if you get too close to them, you’ll need to try again. But you can try as many times as you need, so there’s really no punishment.
There’s also a time-trial mode once you’ve beaten the game that I am nowhere near brave enough to try. I assume the level of precision required there would be way more intense, but for the main game, it’s not bad, especially considering you have unlimited attempts.
Controls and Depth Perception 9.5/10
The controls are fully remappable, which is something that should be standard. But kudos to the team for including it!
Since the game is done in the cel-shading style, but is still 3D, there are some elements that can be difficult to navigate. There are some things that you need to duck under, but you don’t know that until you run into it and realize you’re too tall. I wouldn’t count off for this, but since so often you’re getting chased and need to get your feathered self out of there quickly, it’s kind of an issue. These elements could be indicated by bolder outlines or color variations. Overall, since you have unlimited attempts, I’m only taking off half a point for the depth perception issues. There really aren’t that many places where you’re too tall, so it’s not much of a gripe.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
I’m guessing you could enjoy this game, provided you enjoy this style of game, with about 20/800 vision or better. At 20/800, you’re going to be using the zoom function nearly constantly, so you’re going to have a harder time with the stealth elements when you would otherwise zoom out. However, you can still play the game and learn the patterns and do it that way.
Overall, I recommend this game if you enjoy stealth and puzzle games or you want to see innovative accessibility design. It includes some really innovative elements. I wanted to give it a straight up perfect score just to reward it for the zoom function and utilizing it so well. This is the type of zoom that I want built into literally every single game. If you think you might like a stealth game, then you owe it to yourself to see what truly integrated zoom can look like.
Correction: This review has been updated to indicate that the controls are remappable and that the zoom function can be accessed with toggle controls instead of push-and-hold controls. Both of these features are available in the Options menu.
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