"It's a lovely morning in the village and you are a horrible goose."
As game ideas go, you can't beat the elegant simplicity of Untitled Goose Game. The opening moments of a shady glade and the prompt "Press Y to honk" sets the tone beautifully as your horrible goose emerges from a bush.
You act as an agent of chaos in a peaceful English village. Its residents are happily going about their business in a relaxed, Sunday afternoon kinda way. You enter and have a list of ways to ruin their day. Why a goose has a to-do list, or why it has such good handwriting is beside the point, instead you want to grab, honk and flap your way around this short but perfectly formed game. It's split into discrete areas so there's no confusion about what items you need for the different tasks. They'll be there, in these mini dioramas of life.
The attention to detail for what you would find in a sleepy little English village is quite remarkable. It feels like places I've been on family holidays, which shows amazing talent from the Australian developers. There is a back to basics, rudimentary nature to the sections of the village you visit, giving a feel of being in the 1980s or just untouched by more modern technology.
As the horrible goose, you can grab items with your beak, honk whenever you want, flap your wings and run. There are humans around the village who naturally get quite cross at your antics and bamboozling. They will startle you if they get too close and you'll drop whatever you're carrying/trying to steal, so you need to be cautious and plan accordingly. The game was apparently influenced by the stealth seen in the Hitman games, only instead of brutal murders you're pinching a thermos flask for a goosey picnic.
This gentle havoc is scored wonderfully by a piano keeping tempo with the pace of the action. Plodding along as you waddle aimlessly, swiftly picking up pace as you run away with your ill gotten gains, pursued by an irate gardener.
While it won't take you long to finish the game, you can also complete secret tasks for each of the sections of the game and unlock shortcuts between the different areas. A post launch update added two player co-op in case you wanted to double the amount of honking in your life, and why wouldn't you?
Sometimes an indie game comes along with such perfect simplicity in concept and execution it feels amazing it hasn't always existed, like some sort of Platonic solid of gameplay, a building block of the gaming universe. Untitled Goose Game is one of those titles, an essential element to the fabric of indies and one which should not be taken for granted.