Objectively the greatest game ever made, again! Here's our Goat Simulator 3 review.
G.o.a.T. Part 2 or Part 3?
It is finally here, the long-awaited next sequel to the 2014 classic Goat Simulator. And after way too many DLCs and skipping an entry, we got Goat Simulator 3. The first open-world Goat-type game. And it is beautiful. Now if you know anything about the original you might scoff and groan because time wasn't exactly kind to it.
If you look at 2014's Goat Simulator now, you see a played-out joke that was critically panned for being a cheaply made cash grab that got really popular with all the YouTubers for a hot minute. But from the perspective of its creators, Coffee Stain Studios was a success story. That stupid joke that reached far outside the intended cycles blossomed into a company that now publishes Deep Rock Galactic and is currently developing Satisfactory. Not to mention that the Embracer Group has now acquired them.
I find it hard to look back at Goat Simulator (2014) and not feel happy about it. Somehow a game about lobbing a goat around had taken the internet by storm while being completely self-aware of itself. Sure, it wasn't a great game, but it was an interesting one. But how do you make a sequel to that? Easy, by ripping off everything in the current landscape of gaming while also providing a fun Sandbox to toy around in.
But what is the Goat Simulator anyways? I'm aware that it has been a good few years since the first installment of this franchise. See, Goat Simulator 3 is an in-depth exploration of what it means to be a goat. Unbothered by your surroundings, happy with your standing in life, and just faffing about as everything around you falls apart. From the moment the game riffs on the now iconic Skyrim intro, we all should know what we're in for. A good time.
You play a goat. Sometimes you'll be able to play a tall goat, an angry goat, a water goat, and other types of goat. You'll be let loose on the poor citizens of the world that will now be at your mercy. And well.. you do goat things. This includes such normal goat things as grinding powerlines at Machspeed, jumping out of it into a McTwist 720 while dragging with you a poor innocent Banana-man who is still hip-thrusting while being glued to your tongue.
I know, typical goat stuff. From here on out, the world is yours for the taking. You can either complete one of the several missions that range from funny little riffs of now-defunct horror games whose creator went on to make an Amazon-package delivery simulator, all the way to learning the secrets of flight from a magical homeless guy.
For this, you only have the essentials, a jump that you can triple in best Mario fashion and an attack that can be charged to headbutt someone out of the Milkyway. Or you can lick someone or something that will now be magically attached to your tongue. And most importantly, the bleat action. The most important skill of any video game character.
Goat Simulator 3 shines because it tackles the idea of its existence just differently. While other games are careful not to break the illusion of their fantasy, this game wants the player to break it. Since there is no game over the state and any issue can be fixed by simply respawning, you quickly adopt the attitude of one Cave Johnson. Science is not the question of what you should do. It is the question of why shouldn't you do something.
A Successor to the GTA-Like
Remember when open-world games were more than just huge boxes of things to do? With endless checklists and outposts to clear out? Remember the early PlayStation 2 GTA's? I remember playing GTA: San Andreas when I was younger. My brother and I would play that game for years, passing the controller back and forth and we never even finished the first mission. All we needed was the huge world that was Los Santos, three pages filled with cheat codes to make the funny things happen, and the underrated coop of the console versions.
Surprisingly, Goat Simulator 3 follows that tradition of just being a sandbox for you to mess around in. The world is big enough to offer all kinds of activities, especially when playing with others. And if you're easily entertained by messing around in a sandbox with missions that solve themselves organically by just doing things and an endless checklist of challenges, Goat Simulator 3 is amazing.
The more you do, the more the game opens up with all these new elements for you to toy around with. And I have a love for these kinds of Sandbox games that allow the player to just have fun and if you don't like making your own fun, the game is great at rewarding even the most outlandish of ideas. And the Instincts, smaller challenges the game will throw your way are nice little nudges towards opening your mind to what's possible.
One of Goat Simulator 3's strengths, especially over its predecessor is the various unlockables you'll earn or find in the world. This goes from a jetpack that'll just blast you off into the sky, to a danger sign that occasionally drops shipping containers on your goat. There is a lot to find and unlock. And honestly, the more you play and the more you see the world of the game slowly be affected by your actions is just beautiful.
While the previous titles' DLC already had multiplayer mode, this time around it feels less tagged on. Yes, it comes with some performance issues, with some egregious pop-ins and physics breaking apart. But at this point, I wonder if they made this game specifically to see how far they could push the Unreal-Engine 4. I can't really speak for the online mode because I played some of this game with that brother I mentioned above on a local couch coop. It was great.
Players can split off and do their own thing or tackle objectives together. This can lead to world destruction on one side of the map, while the other is having a good time at the Zoo. But mayhem is best created together. There is just something so liberating and exciting about smashing a goat into things to see how many explosions it might trigger. Or hitting your fellow goat with a car to see how far you it'll fly. The Minigames are also great. They don't go beyond basic competitions but something like the Floor is Lava quickly turns into a fun, PvP mode.
When the Sandbox comes together
It is time for a particular reference that no one will potentially get. In Grand Theft Auto IV, there is a swing set with a loose chain. Some veteran likers of video games might remember that if you manage to get a car hit by that chain, the physics of GTA IV just breaks and launches you all across the map. It was easily one of the best things about this game for a teenager. Only later in life, I would learn that appreciate GTA IV for its amazing writing and story.
I don't think Goat Simulator 3 will be lodged into my memory the same way. But I did like collecting all sorts of junk to strap to the goat that I could then lob at unassuming NPCs that throw out the most outlandish one-liners. Or let it put me this way, any game that lets me dress up as a shark on a skateboard with a lightsaber in his mouth, a railgun on his back, and also lets me do a kickflip? 10/10, greatest game ever made. How can anything even compete?
Goat Simulator 3 especially just appeals to the type of player that just wants to mess around. This is the kind of innocent fun I had with video games as a child, it's the kind of fun that mostly went away outside of maybe Fortnite or the eternal GTA V. And that makes me happy. Sure it's not the greatest thing ever made, it's kinda bugged and sometimes the sound effects just break. But had this game come out like 15 years ago exactly like this? This would've been hailed as the pinnacle of creation.
A Love for the Craft
After finishing Goat Simulator 3, I had a lot of feelings about it. Mostly that I felt an odd sense of kinship with its developers, I will repeat myself over and over here but it's such a stupid game, don't think anyone with a love for the medium can bring themselves to hate it. Of course, it does what every game franchise does when it runs out of ideas, go open world. Worked for Elden Ring, so why not for the Goat?
For something that is still a joke of a video game, I don't think you can deny how much love went into every aspect of it. The way houses are designed, the layouts of the city, and its shops. It really comes off like they tried to recreate some fantasy version of their hometown in which this game can take place.
In a weird, call it Tarantino-esque way, you really get the feeling that everyone on this project just loves making video games, the industry as a whole, and internet meme culture. Yes, this is still the stupid game with the goat that screams with the hamfisted references of an Unreal Engine fangame. But you go into the basement of a grandma and find a way too dedicated reference to Wolfenstein 3D and you can not help but smile.
While I'll later get into the reason why I think this game is a great Sandbox title, I really believe this is just a love letter to the industry. The audience for this game is probably not the mainstream gaming enthusiasts out there, this is a game for children in one way and a game for, you know, weirdo game-likers that get those references.
It's a game that manages to be funny by just being funny instead of trying to be funny. You know, not pointing at a thing and laughing at it by just letting things be funny like running for president by kicking unassuming voters into the voting booth or an unassuming church being a cross-fit gym. And that comes on top of all the stupid nonsense that'll inevitably stack on top of each other in an artful composition of mayhem.
7/10 Coffee Stain North, I love You
Still having to pretend to be a professional, 7/10 is the best score I could bring myself to give Goat Simulator 3. In my heart of hearts as a liker of video games, it is a 10/10, however. You know, I often wonder if video games peaked a few years ago and we're just spiraling now into the endless abyss of sequels to franchises that don't need sequels anymore.
Then something like Goat Simulator 3 comes along as a title that does not care what you think about it and doesn't even try to feign an air of professionalism behind its development. Seriously, the marketing material was hilarious and the game gets almost hauntingly meta toward the end while never tapping out of its comedy.
In an age when video games are made either super professional or passion projects, something like Goat Simulator is refreshing. Yes, it looks and plays like something a bunch of students has cobbled together, but made by developers with lots of love and soul. Like objectively, it's not very good, but it is leagues more fun than it has every right to be.
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