I don’t know if I’ve ever played something as gobsmackingly unhinged as Goat Simulator 3. Developer Coffee Stain North’s doggedly rebellious attitude is apparent in everything from the incoherent “story” to gameplay so over-the-top that half the time it’s hard to tell what’s happening – even the title refuses to play by the rules, skipping Goat Simulator 2 and going straight to three for no particular reason. Throw in four-player co-op that multiplies the madness to even greater extremes as you run rampant through a large open-world map filled with things to lick, headbutt, and blow up, and you’ve got yourself a game so absurd it’s hard to imagine being bored for even a second. This deranged sequel is bigger, packed with silly jokes and pop culture references, and one of stupidest things I have ever beheld. It was love at first bleat.
Like the original, Goat Simulator 3 is an open-world sandbox game that doesn’t even bother with things like a tutorial or having any kind of direction with its ridiculous plot (if you can even call it that). . Instead it lets you and your friends loose on the world and says “go ahead – break it all,” as you complete a series of non sequitur quests and feats of mayhem. You’ll do normal goat stuff like drop a nuclear bomb on a cul-de-sac, or cause a trio of ballerinas to turn into a giant tornado that never goes away for the rest of your adventure, or drive cars into your friends until they explode (both the cars and the friends). However, unlike the first Goat Simulator, this time you are given clear objectives and a quest log that guides you towards leveling up your Illuminati Ranks, upgrading your Goat Castle base, and eventually reaching an incredibly bonkers conclusion after roughly eight hours. The quests are about as insane as you’d expect: in one I was elected President after dragging citizens kicking and screaming into a voting booth with my tongue, while in another I had to infiltrate a facility to unleash a race of anthropomorphic bananas on the world. Oh, and in another, I literally just went bird watching. I really never knew what they were going to throw at me at any given moment, which was delightful.
There’s no health bar and you can’t actually be killed by anything, so there are practically never consequences for anything you do, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, you can throw yourself at problems with reckless abandon, free from worry that you’ll ever fail at anything – but on the other hand, it also removes any potential challenge, which means you’ll blow through any obstacle before you with relative ease. Instead, the fun comes from inventing creative ways to get things done, like that time I transformed myself into a tiny fish to avoid a security system and pull off a heist.
You’ll also complete a list of less important challenges called Instincts that might ask you to get arrested by the police a certain number of times, or light people on fire, or drive a car up a ramp just for the heck of it – all of which make for good, chaotic diversions. You can also search for collectibles out in the world, which are often hidden in places that require jumping off rooftops or some such silliness. That said, you’re given so many insane and overpowered tools it’s very easy to find workarounds, like using expandable stilts to simply raise yourself up to something’s level. Once you figure that out, gathering collectibles just becomes a simple scavenger hunt with no challenge to it either. Instincts and collectibles don’t help you increase your Illuminati Ranks or complete the campaign, but they do let you earn some extra Goat Points to buy cosmetics. Some of those even have an impact on gameplay, like a rocket launcher you can wear on your back or butterfly wings that let you glide through the air. Alternatively, you could just buy a skin called Tony Shark that swaps out your goat body for a shark riding a skateboard – whatever floats your goat.
One massive improvement over its predecessor is that Goat Simulator 3’s world is significantly larger and even more packed with secrets and chance encounters. Areas include a spooky cemetery filled with ghosts, a large city with skyscrapers to climb, and a wooded area, each of which has their own vibe and list of loopy things to discover. In one hidden area, I played an almost beat-for-beat recreation of the P.T. demo called Horror Corridor, except with dumb goat goodness instead of a creepy lady. Finding these super weird encounters and Easter eggs is easily the best part of this bizarre sandbox, and often left me in stitches.
While Goat Simulator 3 is entertaining enough on its own, the true potential of this big island filled with ridiculousness is opened up when you share it with friends. Not only can you play four-player co-op online, but you’re also able to do so via local splitscreen, and I don’t know if any game has felt more suited for a couch filled with the degenerates I call friends than this one. Causing mayhem with my buddies not only amplifies the chaos with up to four times the number of goat psychos running around, but you can also make progress four times as fast since everyone can tackle missions on completely different parts of the map without issue. Although, more often than not my group just griefed one another instead of being productive. There are also half a dozen competitive minigames, like King of the Hill or The Floor is Lava, which make for some amusing distractions to pass the time, though they’re all pretty basic and lose their allure once you’ve played them a few times – running around the open-world and headbutting cop cars is just way more fun.
Really the only major shortcoming of Goat Simulator 3 is that it’s got bugs and poor performance, though honestly even those issues can feel right at home in a sandbox this chaotic. I found my way into objects I wasn’t supposed to get stuck in, rocked the framerate to terrifyingly low levels during moments of especially potent mayhem, and more. Plus, there’s lots of ugly pop-in that makes things seem a bit unpolished in a way that doesn’t feel like part of the joke. These issues were especially bad when playing in splitscreen, where an abundance of goats tested the limits of the world’s stability, but none of them did much to ruin the experience overall.
Source: IGN Video Games All