untitled goose game - title
Video Games

Best Bits – Untitled Goose Game & the power of musical timing

*piano trill*

Whether it’s a clever mechanic, brilliant piece of music, or some unique feature that fuels the ludonarrative, Best Bits highlights the things that make us love games.

When Untitled Goose Game was released it was something of an industry curio and ended up at the top of the Switch charts as everyone wanted to know what this game was about. It turns out that it is about a goose causing mischief within a structure similar to the modern Hitman games. You are set challenges that unfold like mini set pieces from chasing a child into a phone box or having the same child buy back their toy from an angry shopkeeper. All of which is carefully orchestrated by the goose. All of which is fun, in a sort of chaotic Machiavellian, low stakes, evil goose sort of way. It’s the music that elevates everything, tying everything together and sets that laugh bubbling inside as you do stupid things as a goose.

The soundtrack to Untitled Goose Game, by Dan Golding, is this collection of playful piano tracks that perfectly accompany the cheek and mischief the goose gets up to throughout the game. There are swells and temp increases at all the right moments to turn each challenge into a mini vignette. More than that though, they mark the start and finish of each story and turn them into something akin to an animated short.

As soon as your brain realises there is mischief to be had, the piano kicks in to raise the tension asking the question of whether the goose will successfully start this story. Once you’re in full swing of the escapade, this is when the soundtrack gets really excited with haphazard keystrokes that make you feel like you are going to get away with something naughty. And then if you succeed, the music revels in it and rewards the player by almost giving them permission to unleash that laugh they’ve been holding in. But if you fail and get spotted, this is when the music has the most fun as the goose is chased away and the player simultaneously howls in laughter and tries to salvage their operation like an avian bank robber who has stolen a sock.

And all of this is perfectly in timing with every single element of the game. The soundtrack seamlessly transitions from one part of your caper to the next. It makes you feel like a genius when something pulls off one act of silliness after the other, but also constantly reminds you that you’re a goose. The music puts in stark contrast the idea of stealthing under a table or quietly pretending to be a statue with the fact that while you might feel like a Machiavellian genius, you are actually a goose.

On top of that, the game embraces the fact that while it has set you specific challenges a large part of Untitled Goose Game is making your own fun. Even if you decide to create your own heist the soundtrack never misses a thing. It keeps up with you and the goose through it all as you decide that you really must steal all the gardener’s flowers.

The soundtrack that Dan Goldring has adapted from Debussy is nothing short of genius and the way has been implemented into the game with perfect timing is visionary. For a long time games have used their soundtracks to elicit emotions and support cut scenes or set-pieces but I’ve never played a game that had a soundtrack that so perfectly accompanied players making their own fun in a sandbox. This means players can create their own vignettes accompanied by a dynamic soundtrack that is in timing with the thoughts in their heads and the ‘action’ (goose silliness) on screen.

Thank you for reading. If you want some more silliness, then check out our article on Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Alternatively, we have a retrospective of the first Kingdom Hearts game that is worth a read.

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1 comment on “Best Bits – Untitled Goose Game & the power of musical timing

  1. Pingback: Best Bits – Hitman 3 – Means, motive and opportunity – Bits & Pieces

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