Thursday, October 16, 2014

Not Half Baaaad - Escape Goat

Escape Goat has a little history to it, it started life as an X-Box live indie game, and from what little I've heard it was a decent success there, enough at least to see a PC release, and later a sequel. While the game was well praised it seems to have fallen off the radar somewhat. as of this writing no curators recommend the original, and the sequel only has 2, one of which is the game's publisher. sounds like good material for here.

Escape goat sees you as a magical purple goat - yes, really - trying to escape a prison with the help of a small mouse, rescuing sheep around the way. to do that, you'll have to travel through about 50 some odd levels. each one a puzzle that takes up a single screen. The game is actually somewhat non linear here, levels are grouped into different areas, and you can tackle these areas in any order, with more areas unlocking as previous ones are cleared.
your ultimate goal is the rescue sheep, like this one here.
Another interesting thing about the levels is they consist of a lot of moving parts. puzzles mainly revolve around hitting switches or holding down pressure plates to rearrange various parts of the game world. Part of what stands out about this is that things don't just move, there's gears and pulleys and other things to show how and where things move, it can get very complicated and it's pretty neat to see large sections of a level move a shift about as you try to solve them.

Alongside the goat you control, you have a mouse. The, which you can summon and un-summon at any time can climbs up walls and across ceilings, as well as fit through tiny spaces and activate most buttons and plates. There's even a powerup in some levels that give you the ability to swap places with him. The little guy actually allows for a lot of possibility in lever design and the game makes full use of him without making things overly complicated.
swapping places also destroys whatever is between you and the mouse
The game also has a surprisingly good difficulty curve. While the game might seem like it's insanely hard and rage inducing, that's actually not the case. The game starts out fairly simple, saving the crazier stuff for late game when you have a better idea of what you should be doing, and most levels don' rush you much, given you all the time you need to look things over and think about how to tackle them problem. The exception to this are the post game levels, which is where the devs pull all the stops out in favor of some utterly brutal challenges, but since they're fully optional, there's no need to really worry about them. They're there if you want that extra challenge, but easily ignored if you don't

The game also has a custom level editor which allows you to make your own campaigns, I'll admit I didn't tinker with this very much so I can't really comment on useability, and unfortunately the game doesn't have any sort of built in level sharing. I was however, able to find a forum here where people can share levels, and while there's not a lot on it, there's enough to help extend the game a bit.
Levels also contain various traps, such as the one I've fallen into here
Graphically, the game goes for a simple but effective 8-bit aesthetic. Graphics are nice and colorful and everything is readily recognizable, and there's a decent amount of detail to the artwork. Overall I might have seen better pixel graphics elsewhere, but what's here is pretty decent and at worst is perfectly serviceable without being ugly.

The music however, is incredible. The game has an incredible chiptune soundtrack. While the soundtrack only contains a handful of songs, each one is well done and very catchy to listen to. It's easily one of the games biggest strengths and I highly recommend at least giving it a listen at the Bandcamp link below
Explosive crates and barrels can take out enemies for you, or yourself if your not careful
As good as the game is however, it does have one major flaw: it's short, VERY short. I beat the game, doing all levels except the bonus levels, in just under 2 hours. You could likely beat this game in a single sitting if you wanted. it's unfortunate, and it would of been nice if there was another set or two of levels in the main game to play through. Though what's there is VERY good. Also, as of this writing the game is only $4.99, which is a perfectly fair price for a game this length.

Overall, Escape Goat is a perfectly solid puzzle platformer with a difficulty curve that keeps the challenge just right. While I'm told the sequel is even better (and I may yet play and review that somewhere down the road EDIT: I finally reviewed it here), I'd say the first is still worth a playthrough. At the very least? The soundtrack alone makes it worth getting.

Escape Goat was developed and published by MagicalTimeBean. It is available on Steam, GoG and Desura. It's soundtrack is available on Bandcamp. It's homepage, which includes a direct purchase option is available here.

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