Home > Platformer, Puzzle, Xbox Indie > Escape Goat [REVIEW]

Escape Goat [REVIEW]

Escape Goat: release November 2nd, 2011
Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

An increasingly popular subgenre of late has been the skill based platformer. Games like Super Meat Boy, Dustforce, Splosion Man, and a handful of others, have taken the age old genre of platforming off of it’s life support, and given gamers everywhere a reason to care about it again. Popular as they are though, not everyone can get behind these two-dimensional tests of acrobatic showmanship, and would rather opt in to a slower paced platformer, something that retains the challenge, yet drops the insane obstacles. Escape Goat, a puzzle platformer from developer MagicalTimeBean, is exactly the title to fill that role.

In Escape Goat you play the role of a purple Goat who has been imprisoned for witchcraft (what the what!?), and somehow, you must find a way to escape. Along the way you’ll also encounter a mouse who has the ability to switch places with you by way of a teleportation hat. The game starts you off in a brief series of tutorial levels to help show you the ropes, and once you’re finished, it drops you in to a hub world where you have a little more freedom concerning the paths you take. There’s a total of nine main worlds, each with six levels to overcome, and each with their own unique themes and ideas. When you first begin there will only be two “worlds” unlocked for you, but each time you conquer one of them, it unlocks two more. After you’ve completed a minimum of seven of these areas, you’ll unlock the final door, which is an extra lengthy ten stage endeavor.

All in all, the progression of the game isn’t something that will rock the world of platformers as we know it, but the slick presentation and brilliant puzzles on the other hand, are worthy of some pretty hefty praise. It’s tough to really explain just what it is that makes the puzzles in a game like this so good without actually showing them to you, in fact it’s genuinely impossible, so hopefully you’ll take my word for it when I say that they’re just intelligently designed, and a lot of fun to solve. The difficulty curve in Escape Goat is right on the money. There were a few times where I encountered puzzles that truly left me clueless for a while, but I figured them out eventually, and it was a rewarding experience once I did.

Games that rely on puzzle solving as their key source of entertainment have a very fine line to walk, since if they’re too easy to solve, the game will be boring, but if they’re too convoluted or absurd, it just becomes frustrating. Escape Goat walks that fine line with ease, offering up a respectable number of “Aha!” moments, and never dropping the difficulty so far that it feels like you’re just going through the motions to see what happens next. It’s always entertaining, and it never frustrates you to the point of crushing your controller in your hands.

The presentation in Escape Goat is also deserving of some fair praise. Each area that you visit has it’s own unique look, such as a crypt with crumbling bone platforms, or an icy area with (surprise, surprise) ice platforms, etc. Each area does a great job of differentiating itself stylistically from the last, and I never found myself growing tired of the environments. The characters are a lot of fun to control as well. Your rodent companion is not only interesting company, but he also opens up the gameplay considerably, since having two bodies to manage can make for some pretty interesting puzzle scenarios. The entire experience of Escape Goat just feels really polished and it’s a world I had a lot of fun playing in.

Another interesting feature that was included, is a map editor. I haven’t played around with it too much myself, but presumably you’d be able to create levels in it just like the ones featured in the campaign mode. Normally something like this would have me absolutely ecstatic, but sadly this incredibly awesome feature gets bogged down a bit by the fact that you can’t share your creations online in any way. It’s unfortunate really, since an already awesome game like Escape Goat could’ve really benefited from the replayability that comes along with something like a level creator, but without an online sharing system, that huge potential gets left to waste, and will likely be ignored by most of the people who buy this game. It sucks, but hopefully one day we’ll get a PC release for Escape Goat and then, then we’ll have ourselves a proper file sharing system!

I know the Meat Boys and Dustforces of the world currently own a pretty huge chunk of the platforming pie, but regardless of whatever style of platformer you enjoy, I highly recommend giving Escape Goat a look. The puzzles are all genuinely well thought out, and the experience as a whole was very rewarding and more than worth the $3 I paid to obtain it. Though lucky for you guys, it won’t even cost that much anymore! As of this month (February 2012), Escape Goat’s price has been dropped to a single dollar! This is seriously one of the best puzzlers I’ve played in I don’t even know how long, and it only costs $1!

If you’re a fan of platformers, any platformers, stop wasting your time, give it a download.

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