I was a good person until I played the Untitled Goose Game
"It ain't my fault that I'm out here gettin' loose
Gotta blame it on the Goose" — Lizzo
Alone and bored of a Saturday evening, I turned to my Nintendo Switch, the refuge of a man who has had nary a Tinder match for nigh-on a month now.
As it transpires, I've been playing enough Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros of late that a stash of Nintendo coins has built up in my purse. It means I can buy the much-hyped Untitled Goose Game by House House for less than half price. Just €7. So that's what I do.
The premise of the game is simple: "It's a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose." The logistics are simple too. You can run, honk, flap your wings and grab things with your beak. Never did I think that between these four simple commands, I would soon bring a whole village to its knees.
The game begins cheerfully as I wander around, using my weird neck and strong beak to pick up tennis balls and jingle the bells on a bicycle. I go for a leisurely swim in a lake, acclimating to my new goose-body and learning what it is to be a goose. The webbed feet, the serpentine neck, the powerful wingspan. I try to think like a goose. Honk honk.
I reach level one and a to-do list appears, as if from God above. I must cause mayhem for a local groundskeeper — break into his garden, get him wet, steal his rake, make him wear a sun hat.
I steel myself with determination to destroy this man's garden, just as a real goose would. I steal his pumpkins and his carrots, not because I am hungry, but because I can. When he goes to recover his vegetables, I steal his trowel, his wellies, hiding them where they will never be found. I am always one step ahead, and he is powerless to stop me. He is not prepared to fight, he is not prepared to kill me, and that is why he will always fail. I can do whatever I want.
I tear up his flowers. When he kneels to replant a single tulip, I take his regular hat and run away and dump it in the lake.
He is left with no choice but to wear his sun hat. He looks a fool. He is my bitch, now. I have decided his fate. I am the man, and he is but a lowly beast. I flap my wings in the throes of my triumph.
As I flap, I am notified that a new item has been added to my to-do list.
"Make the groundskeeper hammer his thumb."
I pause. Until now, I had been living a life of petty crime and mischief. Misdemeanours. A forgivable nuisance. Now, all my impulses and urges are telling me to physically harm this man. That his humiliation at the hands of a goose is not enough. Now he must truly suffer. He must know pain in order to understand his sins.
A voice in my head urges empathy, forgiveness, mercy. It is my human voice. I dismiss it. Human morals have no place in the mind of a goose.
I sneak up on him and wait for him to hammer his 'No Geese' sign into the ground. As he brings his heavy hammer down, I honk. He shatters every bone in his hand and falls through a fence. I move on without looking back. Perhaps his injury will prevent him from working ever again. I cannot become weighed down by such inconsequential, human considerations. I do not savour his misery, but I do not regret it either. My cause is noble and my course is laid. I am the goose. I am the goose.
— House House (@house_house_) September 19, 2019
I head for the town square, where I happen upon a bespectacled child.
This child is a coward. He is a symbol of all that is weak and unworthy in this world. I honk and he trembles. I waddle towards him and he runs and he falls and his glasses fall off his stupid face. I steal his glasses and replace them with a pair of glasses that don't belong to him. Then I chase him again until he seeks refuge in a phone booth. He makes me sick.
I steal his airplane toy and place it on the shelf of a nearby shop. When he tries to retrieve it, the shop-lady makes him pay for it. If a goose could laugh, I would be laughing, but geese cannot laugh. I feel a kinship with this shopkeeper and approach her, with thoughts of forging an alliance. I honk in salutation.
She chases me off with a broom. I see how it is. She is my enemy.
Unlike the child, she is a worthy adversary. She defends herself. But that will not save her from me, the goose.
I realise what I must do. I must break the broom to break her spirit. I grab on to her broom with my powerful beak and we wrestle for it. It snaps in two, and I run off with my part of the broom and hide it. The village's last hope has been done away with. I walk slowly, confidently, back to her shop, inhaling the scent of victory. I cannot be stopped. I steal what I can, and knock everything else to the floor. I unplug her radio — their human music makes me sick. I steal toilet roll and a hairbrush, though I have no use for them, for I am a goose.
But I wasn't done.
The shopkeeper had won my respect, and for that reason she must be disposed of. I lure her into her own garage. She gives chase. She has fallen into my trap. That is the thing about humans, they always believe that they are in control, even when they are not. She must have taken me for a mere duck. But I'm not a duck, I'm a goose.
I pull the garage door shut, and she realises too late. I watch the shutter come down over her face, and I ignore her frantic fists pounding against the metal, asking for escape, for rescue. I waddle away. Will she starve to death in there? I don't give it any thought. Salvation is the Lord's concern. I am not a merciful God. I. Am. A. Goose.
I arrive in the suburbs, clearly the well-to-do part of the village. The gardens are large. A man relaxes in his slippers (which I steal and run away with) and a woman paints in her garden. Her garden is full of crafts and ceramic creatures, frogs, dolphins. Out of the corner of my beady goose-eye, I spot what could be my reflection. I am temporarily stunned. It's a goose.
A goose, wearing a pretty red ribbon. A goose just like me. Lovingly decorating this woman's garden. At home. Cared for. Could I live the same life as this ceramic goose? Can my crimes be forgiven?
Maybe there is salvation for me. I will take this goose's place. I will live out my days as an ornament, a testament to redemption.
I distract the woman by knocking over a vase, then I undo the ribbon and drag the fake goose away into a corner. I return to stand on the plinth and wait for the woman to come back. To wrap the ribbon around my neck and welcome me with love, to accept me as her goose-child.
The woman spots me on the plinth.
She screams in horror.
She does not accept me. She knows I am not her goose. She will not put the ribbon on me. She attacks me and I run away, hissing and swearing revenge on this accursed village.
I am no longer at home in this world, so I must destroy it.
I will honk, and the world will tremble. I waddle on.