Goat Simulator is the kind of game that wouldn’t have even existed ten, or even five years ago. It started as a joke – a comical game jam project – that has since spiralled into a surprise best seller that is now available on PC, mobile devices – I played on iOS, personally – and even game consoles.
Much of its charm derives from a laid back approach to both the game’s design and the way in which it was developed. You, as a goat, are given license to roam a small open world, interacting with a whole host of objects and NPCs in amusing and outlandish ways. Its sheer absurdity makes it a perfect game to spectate, having no doubt drawn Let’s Play viewers to buy in their droves after watching their favourite YouTubers wrestle with Coffee Stain Studios’ mini slice of madness.
Following Goat Simulator’s initial launch, its Swedish developers have continued to prop it up with post-release updates, fresh content, and even a full fat MMORPG expansion. Although the novelty of causing havoc with a rogue farm animal has somewhat faded, Coffee Stain has found new ways to keep the joke running and their fans laughing.
The latest twist on the joke sees the end of the world fast approaching as human civilisation crumbles in the face of a zombie infestation. Caught smack bang in the middle, you are once again left to explore and experiment in a virtual playground brimming with visual gags and quirky pastimes.
If you haven’t guessed by now, GoatZ parodies the recent rebirth of the survival horror genre. Much like DayZ, H1Z1, and other popular hits, it features one part exploration, one part crafting and a side of basic albeit functional combat. When not laughing at how well GoatZ ribs its intended target, chances are, you’ll come to appreciate it as its own survival game that stays true to the formula.
Your options when playing GoatZ include a tailor-made survival mode as well as a traditional Goat Sim sandbox. Of course, the former mode is the one to go for if you’re to get the most out of GoatZ. It features all the same mechanics and features while also sporting health and hunger systems. Both are dead easy to understand, forcing players to make the occasional detour as they seek food and first aid.
The longer you hold out in GoatZ, the more challenging it gets, each new day spawning a fresh round of enemies. That said, things never get too difficult, thanks to the small array of weapons that can be crafted. From Cupid’s bow to a catapult that launches bags of flour, this arsenal of wacky inventions is more than enough to keep the undead at bay.
After a few rounds, survival mode will inevitably lose its edge for all but those looking to either trump best score or bag a few in-game achievements. but GoatZ’s shelf life receives a boost thanks to its many landmarks and hidden easter eggs. These range from pun-laden billboards to bizarre attractions such as Goat Sim’s take on the Big Red Ball challenge.
For those who simply don’t “get” Goat Simulator and its tongue-in-cheek tour of gaming cliches, GoatZ isn’t going to change your mind. After all, at its core it’s pretty much a re-skin of last year’s original, given a zombie flavoured revamp. Still, there are plenty who’ll relish in its unique brand of humour, even if others miss the punchline completely.