What can I possibly say to describe the insanity that is Coffee Stain Studios' 2014 smash hit Goat Simulator? Wikipedia describes it as a “third person perspective action video game,” but that’s not really what it is. In the game, you play as a goat with the goal of causing as much damage, destruction, and shenanigans as humanly (goatly?) possible. There are a few missions and objectives peppered into the madness for good measure, but for all intents and purposes, the original Goat Simulator was chaos incarnate.
At PAX West 2022, I had the privilege of playing half an hour of the direct sequel to the first game:Goat Simulator 3. Along with a sneak peek at the game, I chatted with Santiago, one of the developers, to get a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes to make Goat Simulator as iconic as it is.
I started off with an obvious question: Why did the folks down at Coffee Stain skip the moniker of Goat Simulator 2 and go straight to Goat Simulator 3?
“Well, honestly, it was a compromise. Half of the writing room wanted to name it Goat Simulator 4, the other half wanted Goat Simulator 2. So we met in the middle and went with Goat Simulator 3.”
I expected nothing less.
That sort of unhinged creative freedom followed through the entire creative process. According to Santiago, “no” wasn’t really a word that got thrown around a lot during the development of Goat Simulator 3. It was much more of a “how do we implement this, and how do we make it fun?”
If you’ve played Goat Simulator, you know that a big part of the experience is the insane amount of bugs and glitches that seem to permeate throughout the entire game. The physics are wonky, character models clip through everything constantly, everyone rubber bands everywhere all the time, and most notoriously, your goat gets launched into the stratosphere for seemingly no reason. One of the biggest challenges of developing Goat Simulator 3 was dictating which bugs were fun to play and added to the charm, and which were detrimental to the experience, causing more headaches than laughs. If the idea or the glitch meets those very broad and very achievable criteria, they found their way into the game.
Goat Simulator 3 is an absolute blast to play. The controls are similar to the original Goat Simulator, however this time around they feel decidedly tightened up and easier to grasp.
For the demo, Coffee Stain made quite a few options available from the get-go, and they’re immediately ridiculous. Whether it be a helium-dart launcher that allows you to lift literally any object in the air or an acupuncture needle gun that causes the limbs of NPCs to go stiff (even if they’re dancing), the repertoire of weapons and equipment are as goofy and outlandish as you’d expect.
Multiple playable animals also make a welcome return. Whether it be a giraffe known as Tall Goat or a hammerhead shark on a skateboard named Tony Shark, amusing and ridiculous player characters are abundant. Eleven animals in total will be available to unlock, with each one being fully usable within each function of the game, despite size or species. When questioned about the nomenclature of the playable animals, Santiago simply shrugged and said, “Well, all animals are goats.” Obviously.
It’s really quite difficult to sum up the 30-minute experience I had with Goat Simulator 3, but let's try: every one of those minutes were filled with unadulterated, silly joy. I played as Tall Giraffe and watched the game try to compensate for my massive size. I drove cars through walls, glitched through the map, head-butted people off cliffs, wore horns on my feet that honked with every step, blew up cars and gas stations with a rocket launcher, and danced at a block party.
I had to put the controller down multiple times because I was too busy laughing my ass off. Goat Simulator 3 is a wonderful and welcome reprieve from the serious and often depressing world of big AAA blockbusters and smaller, serious indie titles. It reminds players of what video games are ultimately meant to be: fun.
If you’re a fan of the first Goat Simulator, I can guarantee you’ll have tons of hilarious fun with the sequel, and it should without a doubt grace your library.
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