by Dan Lenois
reviewed on PC
It's not often you can say you spent a day running around town as a goat with an angry rocket launcher-wielding grandmother strapped to your back. And yet, this almost-perfectly encapsulates the general chaotic ebb and flow of Goat Simulator 3, the deliberately bizarrely-named sequel to the original Goat Simulator, released, appropriately enough, on April 1st, 2014. The decision to release the game on April Fool's Day ultimately proved a brilliant marketing strategy, and the game quickly rose to prominence, thanks to explosive popularity among content creators. Now, over eight years later, the developers have returned to see if you can actually catch goat magic in a bottle twice.
Launching Yourself Through the Fourth Wall...
Designed from the ground up as an open-world sandbox game, players are given free rein to explore, interact with, and destroy entire parts of, the world around them. While the world lacks fully-destructive capability, as is the case with similar open-world sandbox franchises like Destroy All Humans, there will be no shortage of things to knock over, send flying, crash through, or explode with momentous force. However, where the game shines brightest is in its cheeky homages and references to other games, TV shows, and films. Everything from Doom, Seinfeld, to even Silent Hill, make surprise appearances, for those players adventurous enough to uncover them all.
Your Goat, Your Rules...
While there isn't much in the vein of linear progression, players can "synchronize" in typical Assassin's Creed style to gain a general lay of the land, and can stop by mysterious potion cauldrons to gain "wisdom", which will unlock new achievements for players to strive for. Completing achievements will reward the player with points they can spend on cosmetics to customize their goat however they want. Once you realize this, it almost inherently becomes your driving goal to create the most absurd-looking goat anyone ever had the misfortune to behold. However, there are other things one can unlock, other than just mere decorations.
Throughout the world, players can find equipable weapons and utility items that will allow you to interact with the world around you in new preposterous ways. If you want to give your goat the power of flight, you can. If you want to be able to fire colored cannonballs at NPCs in order to change their attire to something more appealing, you can. If you want to blow everything in your sight away, such as people and cars, via your overpowered back-mounted vacuum cleaner, you can. All options become open to any goat willing to do a bit of exploring and spending a few points here and there.
No Goat Is Allowed to Stand Alone...
However, it wouldn't be accurate to say that everything is sunshine and rainbows with this "third" entry in the Goat Simulator series. The developers' focus on multiplayer content above all else effectively renders half of the game unplayable to solo players, as there are tons of minigames and activities, although all of them require preexisting multiplayer parties. Currently, there is no matchmaking queue system in place, so if you wanted to meet up and cause chaos alongside goats of a similar temperament, you're out of luck.
Given the significant price increase between Goat Simulator and Goat Simulator 3, the former charging $9.99 at release, and the latter charging $29.99 as its base price, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect a similar increase in content output to justify said corresponding price increase. And yet this never feels fulfilled. Outside of its aforementioned snarky references and the silly physics system, there isn't a lot holding up this sequel. Everything seen here just makes the player want to go back to the original game instead.
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Ridiculously fun physics, Absurd but creative pickups, Hidden secrets are great
Much content is gated off, World sometimes feels empty, Dialogue loops are annoying