Could it be possible that the key to making a great indie game is to ensure that your protagonist is a Goose? Australian developer House House created 2019 gem Untitled Goose Game, a title that took the gaming sphere by storm and allowed you to play as a comedically sadistic Goose. Two years on, Dutch developer Blastmode have released their debut title Mighty Goose, a run and gun platformer with a devastating goose of its own. Untitled Goose Game was a great indie game with a feathered protagonist at the helm, but can the same be said for Mighty Goose? I thought I’d give Mighty Goose a gander (top tier goose pun) to find out.
Unlike the last popular video game that featured a stealthy Goose protagonist, the titular hero Mighty Goose isn’t one for the quiet and methodical approach, preferring to go all guns blazing and facing his enemies head on. You see, Mighty isn’t just a bird, he’s also one of the galaxy’s most successful bounty hunters. His latest mission has tasked him with eliminating the Void King, a powerful figure who has an enviable army of minions and monsters that fight to protect him. In order to get to the Void King, Mighty must travel through the galaxy to a variety of different locales, running and gunning his way through all who get in his way.
When it comes to the story, that is basically all you can expect to see. There is some dialogue amongst gameplay and short cutscenes, but that is as deep as the lightweight narrative is willing to go. While these exchanges are decent enough, I do wish that there was more of a story, as you never really get much in the way of character building. The fact that Mighty Goose can be completed in just over 2 hours excuses the thin plot to the point where it is satisfactory, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything you’re going to be actively thinking about as you mow down your enemies.
While the narrative isn’t great, Mighty Goose impresses with its quality pixel art aesthetic. As a self-proclaimed glutton for pixel art in indie games I often find myself enamoured by pixel aesthetics of all shapes and sizes, but there’s no denying that Mighty Goose has an attractive visual look. Backgrounds and foregrounds alike exhibit plenty of detail, while levels are brimming with plenty of vibrant colours, with firefights full of explosions and hordes of enemies adding further .
The soundtrack also has its fair share of bangers, with my favourite track appearing towards the end of the “Planet Zandbak” level where you are making your way to the front of a heavily occupied weapons convoy. The epic synth-rock that accompanies this already part of the level truly adds to the already intense moment. The quality of the music doesn’t quite reach the heights where it will end up in my personal music rotation, but it does a brilliant job of amplifying the feeling of the level you’re playing.
Mighty begins levels equipped with his trusty red arm cannon, a reliable weapon for sure, but not one that is going to make much of an impact when a multitude of the Void King’s cronies come hurtling towards you in unison. For that, you’ll need to make the most of the weapons they drop as you take them out. Whether it be the machine gun that allows you to spray down enemies, or the powerful shotgun that eviscerates anything close while also serving as a handy tool to propel you upwards in the air, each weapon is designed to feel particularly punchy and fun to use. This extends to the rocket launcher that locks onto enemies, as well as the lightning gun that envelops enemies in a bolt of lightning that can travel to other enemies nearby. While the power they provide is exhilarating, their limited ammo supply means you must be smart with your usage, as running out will see Mighty return to using the default pistol.
While enemies only occasionally drop weapons, they consistently drop coins, which can be spent by pausing the game and selecting the shop application from Mighty’s nifty little smartphone. From there you can purchase weapons, as well as vehicles such as the Warmachine Tank or the Mech that come equipped with an energy sword. Vehicles like ammo drops can also be found within levels, however the store serves as a handy way to get powerful weapons and vehicles whenever you find yourself in a pickle (so long as you’ve got the coin).
Mighty Goose also has access to a secondary weapon, which is initially equipped with an audible honk that does absolutely nothing. Thankfully as you progress further into the game, new abilities will become available to you via the Armory, such as an hourglass that slows down time and a honk that instead of providing you nothing actually encases Mighty within a reflective shield.
Companions can also join Mighty on the journey through the galaxy. The first companion you meet is a satchel wearing bird that unfortunately provides nothing other than a clear sense of fashion, however other individuals you meet along the way provide actual assistance, gifting you ammo or attacking enemies with their own weapon. Companions can be chosen in the Armory, which can be accessed between levels. They don’t particularly feel necessary, but it is nice to not have to fight alone.
Also accessible in the Armory are various buffs that can be applied to Mighty Goose, such as an increased movement speed, a double jump, and extra ammo in weapon pickups. Each upgrade requires a given amount of energy to use, with the total amount of energy capped at 100. Abilities can easily be toggled on and off, meaning that you can easily experiment to find a loadout that suits you best. You can even test abilities out in the armory. Being a sucker for movement speed and more bang for my buck with weapon pickups saw me making use of those abilities for the majority of my playthrough.
Mighty Goose isn’t punishing with its difficulty, but it’s no cakewalk either, which is probably to be expected considering a single level will likely see you kill hundreds of enemies. You need to be making use of your dodge consistently while firing, as Mighty can only take four hits before dying. As your body count rises, so does the Mighty Meter, a bar which when filled can be used to activate “Mighty Mode”, a special ability that makes Mighty impervious to attacks and his weapons even more powerful. Constantly being on the move in combat and knowing when to best make use of Mighty Mode is the key to success. This strategy also applies to boss battles, which feature a big bullet sponge of an enemy that is going to no need far more bullets than your usual foe.
Mighty Goose is a solid time, but I did still have some issues with it. Firstly, the checkpoints in levels feel a tad too spaced out, resulting in deaths that banish further back than what feels reasonable. Mighty Goose is also really short, with the game capable of being run through in just a couple of hours. The New Game Plus serves to provide an additional playthrough that is more challenging, but there isn’t any discernible difference between the NG+ levels and the normal levels, resulting in an experience that feels redundant because it feels the same. If the NG+ levels had provided a far more challenging difficulty or offered up new scenarios, the second half of the experience may have been worthwhile. It’s ultimately disappointing that these levels fall flat, as I really wanted to squeeze more time out of Mighty Goose, outside of replaying levels in the hope of getting a higher rank.
Despite the lightweight story and the subpar new game plus, Mighty Goose still provided hours of fun and engaging gameplay. Killing thousands of enemies with a variety of different weapons and vehicles was consistently enjoyable, and the game’s soundtrack and pretty visual look had me invested in the experience. It’s short runtime was upsetting and did leave me wanting a bit more, but the lack of variety in the stages and combat, while fine in the short term, likely would have begun to get stale if the experience was much longer. Mighty Goose isn’t a game that you’ll likely remember years from now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a honking good time.
Written by: @GrumpyGoron