Goat Simulator 3 can be difficult to follow. That’s partly because of the name – this is only the second Goat Simulator – but mostly, it’s due to the zany sandbox comedy’s four-legged protagonist, who wreaks havoc at breakneck speeds. After a brief introduction that mimics Skyrim‘s infamous opening, you’re set loose to play as the world’s most chaotic goat. The goal? To run rampant through Goat Sim 3‘s woefully unprepared world, and maybe build a satanic secret lair along the way.
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Once you’re free from the game’s nearly non-existent tutorial, the world is yours for the taking. Right off the bat, the existence of a dedicated ragdoll button says a lot about what Coffee Stain North wants you to do: Goat Simulator 3 is for breaking. Barrels are made to be headbutted, people are for throwing, and cars are for joy-riding into fiery wrecks.
If Goat Sim‘s ragdoll physics didn’t make causing chaos easy enough, you can kit your goat out with a number of over-the-top devices. Equippable items are strewn across the world, and can either be found along your travels or unlocked through short quests. Some of these provide ungodly mobility – an endlessly-growing set of stilts will let your goat tower over skyscrapers – while others, such as a portable firework launcher, are designed purely for wreaking destruction. You can mix and match the items you equip at any time, but the catch is that most of them are bound to the same button, leading to some wild combos. This heralds bad news for Goat Sim‘s human inhabitants – there are few things as bad as being shot with a fast-moving fish, but having it followed up with a rocket-propelled goat certainly makes the cut.
Admittedly, Goat Sim‘s ragdoll shenanigans get old fairly quickly. There are only so many times you can laugh at a car flung into orbit before it starts to feel like commonplace jank, and in single-player it soon feels like trying to force a laugh out of yourself. Luckily, Goat Sim is packed with genuinely well-crafted gags in the form of quests. Though the first Goat Sim‘s gimmicks felt largely catered to younger players who could be sustained on the very silly premise alone, Goat Sim 3 feels much more expansive. Climbing into a sandcastle you’ve made will task you with defending a bomb site in a near-perfect replica of Counter-Strike‘s iconic Dust 2 map, while ill-fated Silent Hills demo P.T. has been lovingly recreated to play through in a suspiciously foggy corner of the map. One granny’s basement even hides a brief Doom level, complete with pixelated ’90s graphics. These parodies are incredibly well made and show that behind Goat Sim‘s deliberately janky veneer, 3 has been made with love and care.
However, Goat Sim doesn’t stay engaging for very long if you’re playing on your own. Though the game can be played entirely single-player, a lot of the gags and jokes simply aren’t funny if you don’t have someone to share the laughter with. Multiplayer in Goat Sim 3 is remarkably easy to drop into though, and supports split-screen and four-player online co-op.
While playing Goat Sim alone started to feel a bit boring, it was drastically improved by plugging in a second controller. Suddenly there was someone to giggle with as a cop was carried into the sky for an impromptu fireworks show, or laugh at as their rag-dolled goat was whisked away by a tornado of their own making. Goat Sim 3 is improved tenfold when you have (or become) an audience to frivolous sandbox antics – it feels perfect for late-night gaming sessions with pals, where you’re all too sleepy to jump into another competitive match but aren’t quite ready to call it a night just yet.
For anyone looking for a bit more point to Goat Sim‘s multiplayer, there are a slew of brilliant minigames to jump into. Many of them are familiar takes on our favourite games: Headsplat is a Splatoon parody that glues a paintbrush to your head and tasks you with painting more objects than your rival, while Prop Hunt is a recreation of the iconic hide-and-seek mode from Garry’s Mod, albeit with more headbutting and licking.
There’s enough minigames to keep players coming back, but the real twist is that they can be kicked off anywhere on Goat Sim‘s map – meaning that your makeshift arena is wherever you choose to begin a game. It’s worth taking advantage of this, for the chaos alone – this review involved a football match in the middle of a busy road, and a high-stakes King of the Hill game on top of a skyscraper – where getting headbutted off the haystack ran the risk of plummeting off the arena.
In terms of substance, Goat Simulator 3 is a major step up from the first Goat Simulator – and ultimately, the game’s £27 price tag means it gets some leeway that full-price games wouldn’t. If you’re happy with the ridiculous sandbox you get at that price, then go right ahead: your dedicated bleating button awaits.
To the shock of none, Goat Simulator 3 is this year’s most chaotic game. The real surprise is that, beneath Goat Sim‘s daft facade, there are some brilliant gags that manage to go beyond being throwaway Easter eggs. However, nothing in the game lands quite as well in single-player – meaning you should knock a star off if you plan to play this on your lonesome.
- Quests range from silly gags to well-crafted parodies of our favourite games
- Minigames have plenty of replayability since you can play them anywhere
- Shooting things with a firework launcher, somehow, doesn’t get old
- Not as great if you’re playing alone
- Some of the jokes feel a bit dated