A GOOSE, The Witcher 3
I am Geralt of Rivia, a lithe and muscled slayer of monsters and men alike, and I am scudding around the starting area bothering a goose. I have never been happier and I fear I never will be happier. The goose, a pleasingly-large white fellow, raises its wings and runs away from me as I approach. Geese are wonderful; spookable gooses doubly so.
A HORSE, Red Dead Redemption
Woah, girl. Woah there. Shh-sh-shhh. I slip my lasso around the wild mare’s neck and leap on it’s back, and hoo boy is she ever spooked, but I’ve got a reputation as a hard-livin’, no-nonsense Wild West chap to live up to, and I have to convince this horse to be my friend otherwise I can’t get to the fun part of the game where you shoot men in the face, so you’re damn right I power through this spooking. A nice lady, nearby, congratulates me on a job well done and I briefly regret ever marrying my wife or spawning my boy, both of whom hang around my neck like metaphorical millstones that stop me from pursuing a relationship with this nice, self-sufficient woman who nearly owns a farm and is a crack shot with a rifle.
A CAT, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Okay: I did not spook this animal. I tried, but whenever I interacted with it, it just sort of fussed around my legs. Is that “petting” an animal, Ubisoft? In this case my sofa can pet animals. My sofa cannot pet animals, Ubisoft. Sort it out. (Also: I can pet pigs, and when I do so I drop food on the ground for them to eat, and what, I’m just carrying pig food around in my pocket? Me, a sanctfied killer of men? How far are you going to push this Irish stereoptyping, Ubisoft? Is there going to be a mission later on where I have to steal a ladder from a pub landlord to access a rooftop garden filled with pigs which I then, subsequently, also steal whilst doing a little jig, a writhing porker slotted under one arm and a cheeky grin slapped across my big Irish face? Jesus, Ubisoft.)
A DIFFERENT HORSE, Skyrim
Do you know how easy it is to set horses on fire? So easy. We should look into that. They could replace kindling. I catch my horse, nicknamed Corporal Fucknasty, in the edge of a fireball I cast to eliminate some bandits who had the temerity to try and own property while I was in a twenty-mile radius of said property, and he is so upset that he immediately tries to kill me. Did you know that horses can climb watchtowers? They should not be able to, physics-wise, but the raw hate that pumped through Corporal Fucknasty’s veins instead of blood gives him strange powers. I escape him by leaping off a cliff and dying.
A CHICKEN, Also Skyrim
I decide I am to become an assassin and pick a chicken as my first target, but upon striking it the entire town of Riverwood descends upon me in a murderous rage. I spend a full half hour plotting out the perfect sniper shot and eliminate it, cleanly, like a ghost in the night. Like a ghost that kills chickens. A child sees me and I attempt to set him on fire, but to no avail – he is some sort of asbestos-child, immune to burning, and the blacksmith rightly corners me and mashes up my organs with a hammer as tall as I am until they resemble a sort of red lumpy paste.
A COW MAYBE, Dragon’s Dogma
I latch onto the underside of a cow (or at least a cow-shaped animal) and ride it like I’m a Greek hero sneaking past a cyclops, and it shuffles around, understandably uncomfortable that there is a large woman in platemail hanging off its udders. No other part of the game is this good; there is full cow-climbing functionality, here, I am bouldering over the big hairy bastard like there’s no tomorrow. There is a whole game in this, I reckon – like Shadow of the Colossus crossed with Gorkamorka, brave men and women riding mythical beasts (or, you know, cows) into battle against one another, swarming over their leviathan mounts in search of weak spots. My follower sees me doing this and informs me that wolves dislike fire. We are set upon by wolves. I uninstall the game.
THE C4LEPHANT, Far Cry 4
Did you know that you can place mines on an elephant? The marriage does not last long, as the mine detects the elephant as a target, and detonates. This is sad and premature. Far better, then, as we discovered, to cover an elephant in C4 and ride it into the middle of an enemy base and to signal to your co-op partner through the medium of yelling “NOW, DO IT NOW, PUSH THE BUTTON” to detonate the explosives and wipe out half of the opposing forces in one fell swoop. The elephant died doing what it loved – helping us kill bad men in red hats.
RAJ THE TIGER, also Far Cry 4
“I have made a friend,” says my co-op partner, “I freed him from his captors, those bad men in red hats, and he is a tiger.”
“He keeps trying to kill you.”
“His name is Raj.”
“I don’t think he wants to be your friend. He seems really upset. He keeps lunging at you.”
“He’s playing with me.”
“You’ve put C4 on him.”
“It’s the closest thing I have to a collar.”
“I think we should kill him.”
“Raj nooooo,” he says, thumbing the detonator and blowing the tiger straight up into the air like a stripey firework.
A HONEY BADGER, Far Cry 4 again
“Oh god, oh god, oh god.”
“Give it your wallet. Maybe it’ll go away.”
TWO GIRAFFE, Age of Mythology
I am a great Egyptian Pharaoh, a devotee of the god Set, and I have the power to forcibly convert animals to my cause. My base is all but destroyed, but my battalion of two (2) giraffe is fighting back against the Norsemen who have inexplicably made it all the way to Africa and decided to set up here in the desert to see whose god is best. My giraffe, lanky-legged and mind-controlled with a sort of discount hoodoo that washes around their heads and comes off them in a greenish haze, smash apart the enemy base over the best part of an hour while I stand on the far side of the river that separates our forces and throw rocks.
The base falls. I am a mighty God-King, and Set will be pleased.