Honk! We’re naming Untitled Goose Game’s horrible goose as the Best Character of 2019. We’ll be updating our GOTY 2019 hub with new awards and personal picks throughout December.
Chris: There’s a weird pleasure to playing a bad guy in games, but it’s often coupled with a bit of guilt over the terrible things you do and punishment in the form of a ‘bad ending’. Not so in Untitled Goose Game, because you’re not really evil, you’re just supremely annoying. You’re not killing or even hurting anyone, you’re just kind of ruining their afternoon for no particular reason. And that’s incredibly liberating. You can be an asshole goose with a completely clear conscience, which makes it all the more fun.
Jody: The NPCs treat you like you’re just an asshole goose too. No matter what you take or how much you torment that one kid they just shoo you off. Steal as many of the farmer’s things as you like, he’s never going to get a gun. Any other stealth game would escalate to the point where you have to reload a save point, but because you’re just an annoying bird Untitled Goose Game never has to. The next time some stealth game makes me play an assassin who needs to worry about checkpoints, I’m going to wish I was the terrible wonderful goose instead.
Andy K: I love the goose. It is pure chaos energy. The magic for me is in the animation. It expresses so much through its body language, strutting around like it owns the place, snapping things out of people’s hands. And that honk. It’s just perfectly obnoxious and mischievous. There’s more character stuffed into that bird than the entire casts of some games, which is a remarkable feat, really.
Phil: Andy’s right. Essentially what we’re doing here is saying the best character in PC gaming this year was a white blob with a beak and some little orange legs, but the animations—the walk, the honk, the I’ve-just-stolen-your-rake backwards run—all exude the sort of no-fucks-given energy that feels so perfectly at home in a goose. Untitled Duck Game wouldn’t work. Untitled Swan Game might work, but swans are more menacing than horrible. Untitled Human Game would just be bleak and depressing. But the goose is such a perfect foil to House House’s pitch-perfect depiction of rural British life; annoying enough to ruin your day, but not threatening enough to actually do anything about.
Evan: I don’t mean this in a cynical way, but Goose Game is a reminder of how much the media apparatuses that surround us shape and determine the games that we end up playing. The goose, as a carefully animated body, is inherently livestreamable. It is extremely giffable. Screenshots of players’ accumulated havoc are instantly readable in a thumb’s scroll of Twitter. Fun cameos can be inserted into Goose Game’s little town, as we saw at The Game Awards. In the year or two to come, I think we’ll see studios learn from the success of this modest project by thinking holistically about how the larger internet interacts with games-as-media.
Rachel: Rake in the lake! Rake in the lake! Rake in the lake!