Mother of Goat, this game is hard. Don’t trust the adorable bearded mascots, vibrant graphics and bouncy music; you will tear your hair out and swear like Gordon Ramsay shaking hands with a lobster when you play Goats on a Bridge.
The premise is deceptively simple: lead two independently-controlled goats across a series of increasingly complex bridges before they collapse under hoof. To do this, you’ll need to hop over gaps and obstacles, slide through low spaces and steer through a layout so convoluted you’d swear the bridge was a slinky in a past life. With a single mistimed button press spelling fluffy doom, Goats on a Bridge doesn’t so much reward perfection as it does demand it.
All of this is pretty standard fare for a running game, but where Goats on a Bridge differs is that it makes you control two characters across different sections of the bridge at the same time. This simple change is completely mind-bending as you struggle to coordinate two sets of controls, dodging two sets of hazards. And just when you start to get the hang of it, one bridge will cross over the other so your left-hand goat is now on the right side of the screen, and vice versa.
While this is more of a test of coordination than reflexes, it still highlights the reason why obstacle-dodging games often only have a couple of buttons. Keeping it all straight in your head and communicating it to your hands feels like learning an instrument, except that instead of easing you in slowly, your teacher has spent two minutes on left hand, two minutes on right hand, and thereafter expected you to combine them, playing a different song on each. While it feels great to finally get to the end of a complicated run, this steep learning curve will definitely turn some players off.
A couple of minor issues add to the frustration. The camera remains fixed onto whichever goat is further ahead, meaning you have to move both of them together or you won’t be able to see what the one at the back is doing. However, doing so is made more difficult if your keyboard limits the number of key inputs it can process at a time – leading to goats charging into a gap rather than steering around it. Fortunately, you can hook up a twin stick controller, which handles the input much better.
Despite being extremely cute and at times hilarious, Goats on a Bridge is not for everyone. But if you’re the kind of person for whom failure only hardens your resolve, who eats Dark Souls for breakfast and had to make your own Guitar Hero tracks because Through The Fire And Flames was just too damn easy, this just might be your cup of bitter, scalding tea.