“The first thing I’m going to do is turn on the disco music, start dancing with you with my head butt, and then lick you.”
That was how my almost-8-year-old daughter prepped me to play Goat Simulator, the game I’m reviewing for February. I was excited, nay, beyond excited to play this game. It’s goats, people. Doing stuff. I was 100% sold.
From the minute we downloaded it to our PlayStation 4 in mid-January, my kids were obsessed with it. I heard them laughing and screaming with joy while they played the game with my husband, who to my surprise told me it was, “a little too murdery” and then complained that “it’s impossible to teach your goat how to ride a bike.”
I was intrigued. And a little nervous. But mostly I was confused about what I was getting into.
Goat Simulator was developed as a joke, as most wonderful things are. Some employees at Coffee Stain Studios developed it in January 2014 as a way to goof off and, amazingly, people loved it. It was so popular that they made it into a full game, and are now most likely fanning themselves with Goat Simulator money on a beach in the Caribbean somewhere. Well, I am all about nonsensical things that make me laugh, so I was hoping I’d get a huge kick out of this game. Sadly, that ended up being only partly true.
For the first time in a long time, my daughter was more into a game than my son was, so I had her take me through it. As promised, the moment the game started she had her goat lick me. My goat fell down. I said, “So now what?” And she said, “Nothing.” Fair enough.
My daughter then had me bounce along and follow her through a field until we reached some sort of cage that we had to climb inside. She said, “Go over to that thing spitting out tennis balls. Now run into it. See? Now it’s on your back!” “Oh. Okay,” I said, “Now how do I get it off?” “You can’t,” she said. Fair enough.
Then she led my poor ball-spitter carrying goat over to a house where a woman was sitting on the front porch. She said, “Lick her.” I did. The woman screamed, jumped onto her roof, and my goat got its tongue stuck to her chair.
Now my poor goat was carrying a ball-spitter and dragging a chair along by the tongue. “So, what now?” I asked. “Nothing,” she said. Fair enough.
At this point, it seemed like the game was just going to be me as a goat running around licking things. To a degree, that more than satisfied me, but I do appreciate accomplishing things in games so I was glad to find that there are some goals and tasks you can work on.
You earn points in Goat Simulator by licking things, head butting things, and completing stunts like getting shot into the air on a rocket (and let me tell you, whoever did the graphics for what a goat would look like getting shot into space nailed it. Not that I would know for sure.) Also oddly realistic are scenes where your goat gets hit by a car, or you murder someone — there was something about the flopping and twisting of the bodies and the way they landed that was just creepy enough for me to say, “Oy.”
That’s one of my complaints about the game — it is, as my husband put it, pretty murdery. There’s a section where your goat can participate in a goat fight in a blood-stained circle with people standing around cheering. By the time we got to the goat murder ring, I was no longer having fun and wasn’t too psyched about my children playing this. Had I read the ESRB review of it, I probably would have passed on the game altogether.
I did appreciate that you have the option to turn into different animals, one of which is my favorite animal, the giraffe. Unfortunately, there are many limits to what you can do as a giraffe in the game. That made me sad. What made me sadder was when my daughter changed into a goat mutation called “Goat Angel,” which looked adorable until she showed me that her new secret power was the ability to summon dead goats, who would pop onto the screen and then lay there, being dead.
Goat Simulator is a great game if you are not the parent of an 8-year-old. I was not comfortable with some of the more R-rated parts when it came to playing with my kids. If I had been playing with my husband or some teenagers, I would probably wet myself laughing. Although their younger and more impressionable minds loved it, it was a step too icky for me. But I might need to get a game going with my husband sometime; he is going to be pissed when he learns that our daughter figured out how to make her goat ride that bike.