Over the years, I’ve encountered more creativity than I could ever imagine. Games that make no sense on paper but you’re so glad exist in practise. At face value, GEESE vs CTHULHU may be one of the bizarre crossovers I’ve ever seen. It’s a combination of geese memes (popularised by Untitled Goose Game) and Lovecraft’s most famous work. It is nonsense, it is ridiculous and it should fail before it gets off the ground. Yet this game is absolutely incredible.
Solely developed by Anatoliy Loginovskikh, GEESE vs CTHULHU is an abstract experience that simply has to be played. Clocking in at just under an hour, but taking upwards of 90 minutes to get all achievements for a completionist run, GEESE vs CTHULHU is very much a short game. The kind of title you can blast through in one sitting, but the game being split into seven levels makes it easier to get back into things if you do need to take a break. So what’s it all about?
Well, the title is both accurate and confusing. It is about geese and they do, in fact, take on Cthulhu, but it is a little more complicated than that. A thousand years ago Cthulhu disrupted the geese and their peaceful crouton making ways and threatened to eat the sun. Promptly defeated by the Geese, Cthuluhu promised to return in a thousand years to eat the sun again. So it leaves us in the modern day, Cthulhu has returned and our three-headed geese saviours are all that stand between him and the sun. The story is bizarre and light-hearted. In the days where 30 hour marathon games are the normality, it is a relief to sit down and laugh at the ridiculousness of an idea for an hour. There is nothing serious about GEESE vs CTHULHU, but it works because it doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. None of this descredits the fantastic work Anatoliy put into the game either. There is a lot they do well throughout GEESE vs CTHULHU - proving that this game is more than a quirky idea with a pretty face.
The quirkiness is woven into the game's art without isolating itself for being too strange. There is a great personalised twist for Cthulhu as well. Although instantly recognisable, Anatoliy gives Cthulhu enough of a make over to make him his own. There are a few loud character designs throughout the game and although the animations are simple, the visuals of the character more than make up for it. The final boss is slightly disappointing in its design. There’s no grandess to it like there are with the other characters you encounter throughout the early levels. Musically, the game is fantastic too. Much like the art, a lot of the music is kept fairly simplistic throughout, but it suits the tone of the game just fine. GEESE vs CTHULHU does a great job of not trying to do too much at once.
The gameplay is arguably the weakest aspect of GEESE vs CTHULHU, which is not a knock on its quality. The design is fairly basic, but the fun comes from the difficulties of each level. Every level is controlled with dragging the mouse around, but each of the seven levels stands apart from each other. They all ask the player to do something a little different each time. There is definitely roughness to it at times. The mouse control feels a little unresponsive on a couple of levels and a particular level can be punishing on the player despite no clear error from the player. It can be frustrating at times, it is a lack of refinement that really prevents the game from taking a leap to the next level.
GEESE vs CTHULHU brings a charm and quirkiness to indie games similar to its renaissance in the early 2010s. It’s colourful, loud and joyous despite its occasional faults. Is it rough around the edges at times? Definitely, but it more than makes up for in creativity.
GEESE vs CTHULHU (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
GEESE vs CTHULHU is another great experience from the abstract world of Anatoliy Loginovskikh.