Escape Goat Review (Xbox Live Indie Games)
Posted by Jim Cook, Nov 10, 2011 18:33
Escape Goat is a 2D puzzle-platformer, so it stands in good company alongside games like Braid, The Adventures of Shuggy, and other titles that take the classic ’run and jump’ formula but replace most of the fighting with solving mental challenges. The player is given control of a goat imprisoned for witchcraft (I’m not kidding), and has to guide him through dozens of stages full of traps, enemies, and switches that manipulate the world around him. All of this is done in an intentionally retro graphics style and with very simple controls, so it’s obvious that Escape Goat is a nod to the NES-era. This simplicity works alongside a low price to provide a very charming game, and one of the better additions to the XBLIG catalog.
The titular Goat is fairly limited in what he can do. He can run, jump, double-jump, dash (and air dash, both of which can be used to break weak barriers), and operate switches... but that’s about it. There are many puzzles in the game that this set of abilities can’t complete on its own, but Goat is quickly joined by a mouse he can summon to take care of the rest; it will gladly run through small spaces, climb walls, press switches he can’t reach, and even serve as a ’beacon’ for Goat to teleport to once the mouse is past certain obstacles. Learning each of their abilities and limitations is the key to solving most puzzles, and they work together in a very intuitive way. It’s usually obvious which character is relevant for any particular part of a puzzle, you just need to figure out how precisely to apply their skills.
Play is divided over multiple zones, each with about half a dozen stages apiece. While the first several stages are mostly tutorials or extremely easy so as to let you see each ability in action, the difficulty ramps up about half-way in. There will be stages that require you to replay them several times, demanding precise timing, avoiding enemy attacks (only a few stages offer ways for you to fight back), and hitting switches in the correct order or else rendering the puzzle impossible to finish. Fortunately, even an ’unwin’ situation can be fixed by just resetting the stage and you’re given infinite chances so it’s not really possible to lose. This switch in difficulty is rather abrupt, and I have to stress that the later parts of Escape Goat are pretty hard; you’ll get the most out of it if you’re seeking a challenge.
As is typical in this genre, Escape Goat is a single-player game; one person controls Goat and the initial parts of the mouse’s movement (the AI handles the rest, obeying a series of rules about what your rodent ally will and won’t do). Perhaps the inclusion of a level editor will compensate for that however, as it offers most of the same features seen in the regular stages. Building stages to challenge yourself, or friends at the same console, is a nice touch in an indie title. I wouldn’t call it the main attraction, but it’s definitely a fine bonus.
Overall, Escape Goat easily earns its $3 USD/240 Microsoft Point cost. It’s a rather challenging game, and you won’t get far enough in a demo/trial session to see that, but it’s good at what it does. With simple controls, the ability to make your own levels, a mix of retro graphics alongside excellent modern music to set a unique atmosphere, and an intuitive relationship in how Goat and the mouse work together, this indie release does quite well for itself. If you’re in the mood for a tough, classic-style puzzle platformer then definitely pick this up!
Rating: 0.0, votes: 0