“Tikvah has lived here all her life. One by one, everyone else left. But now, there is no one left. Except Tikvah and her goats”, so we are told at the beginning of Where The Goats Are.
You play as an old lady, Tikvah, who lives with her goats and chickens in a remote homestead. It’s a quiet and lonely existence where you point and click to pet goats, milk goats, fetch water from a well to water a plant, collect eggs from the hen house, pray, make cheese, doodle on the ground with a stick or simply do nothing at all. You’ll soon find that Tikvah’s tasks bring her joy, though; she whistles with charm as she slowly milks her goats.
There is no clock in the game; as the days march on, you learn to tell the time by the changing colours of the minimalist landscape. The only human interaction in Where The Goats Are comes in the form of a trader who passes through, bringing letters from relatives. He trades hay and goats in exchange for cheese, but never stays for long.
The letters Tikvah receives from various family members initially offer good wishes and talk about their lives elsewhere. They soon hint at coming devastation and eventually, the trader scurries off after delivering a final torn letter, never to return. It might have been my imagination, but Tikvah seemed to move more and more slowly as each fleeting day passed. Her stubborn choice to remain means that there is no option to abandon her white-picket-fence existence in the face of increasingly ominous doom.
At one point in the game, creepy phantom goats arrive in the dark only to disappear before sunrise. Then the chickens suddenly disappear. This is followed by the ominous appearance of large ravens, which refuse to leave, no matter how much you waggle your mouse cursor at them. If you haven’t realised it by then, Tikvah’s short days are numbered. It’s up to you how she spends her last days.
Available for Windows and Mac, Where The Goats Are is a highly recommended, slow-paced yet memorable experience. It lasts about an hour and it’s hard to describe what you leave with at the end of it — perhaps a sense of melancholy and just about enough curiosity to play the game again, for a chance to spend more time with Tikvah, the goats, the chickens and the poignant letters.
Game: Where The Goats Are
Developer: Memory of God
Twitter: @MemoryofGod https://twitter.com/MemoryofGod