You might say that I am having a bad day. I’ve been accused of witchcraft, and been interred in the Agnus Prison, to rot for eternity. I’m not one to take this lying down, however, so I’ve decided to breakout. Steeling myself, I put hoof to flagstone, and begin my quest for freedom. Oh yeah, and I’m a goat. Betcha didn’t see that coming, didja?
Escape Goat is a simple puzzle platformer done in an 8bit style with a surprising amount of depth. Players are tasked with navigating a series of individual rooms rife with danger in the hopes of finding a method of early parole. Joined by a friendly mouse, and with the occasional aid of a magic hat, you must collect keys and traverse each deadly room, bolting for the exit once you have discovered the proper path and unlocked it’s door. Rooms come in sets, and at the end of each set awaits a sheep, which for some reason will get you closer to your goal (because why not?).
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, yes and no. The earliest rooms are quite simple, offered up moreso as training grounds, allowing you to get comfortable with the excellent controls. You can double jump (who doesn’t like a good double jump?), and ram, gaining speed and potentially moving or breaking objects. Once your faithful mouse companion joins your quest, he can assist by holding down pressure plates and running along walls and ceilings, pressing switches as he passes by on his merry mouse way. Things start to get a bit more complex in levels containing the magic hat, which allows you to swap places with your Peromyscus pal, thus allowing you access to areas that your goat girth would otherwise prevent you from reaching.
Oh, the traps you will trounce! Ever present are some of the classics: bottomless pits, wall riding sawblades, and fire-spewing gargoyles will all do their darnedest to put you in an early goat grave. While the introductory levels often use these in rather elementary ways, their application becomes much more creative as you delve ever deeper into your own personal dungeon. By the end of the main campaign, their usage is downright devious. You’ll be cut, crushed, sliced, diced, incinerated, and more. Need more challenge? The tongue-in-cheek All Intensive Purposes collection (unlocked after beating the main campaign) was built by a maestro of mayhem, with death apparent behind each corner, both quick to slay and hilarious in execution.
Whilst finesse will get you a fair ways in breaking out of the prison, at it’s core Escape Goat is a PUZZLE platformer. Most rooms will contain some mind-warping problem to wrap the old grey matter around. These range from move-object-A-to-point-B to “how the hell do I get there?”, all whilst continuing to challenge your platforming skills at the same time. By the end of the game, you will be engaging in dizzying feats, ranging from aerial goat acrobatics, to forming your own closed mouse circuit, as your furry friend pushes buttons in sequence, allowing you just enough time to gallop through a corridor as stones pound the pavement behind you. Some of the more intricate levels are Rube Goldberg-esque deathtraps, with a single switch push setting in motion ridiculous displays of firepower and carnage, raining death from all angles.
I’ll be honest, I had picked up Escape Goat years ago, and had never gotten around to playing it. My loss is evident as I pound out this short work. The gameplay was challenging and rewarding, and I feel smarter for having spent some time with it’s puzzles. The game is designed to be played with a gamepad, and the fun flows freely once you get into the meat and potatoes of the game. While the standard campaign could be completed in a weekend (or a lengthy sitting if you are a game glutton like me), the post game All Intensive Purposes campaign (yes, its wrong, and also a joke. A good, pointed joke) is terrifyingly difficult, and will challenge almost everything you learned in your first playthrough. I’ve got an hour or more into it, and I have completed 2 rooms. Room completion (for me at least) averaged 5-10 minutes a pop in the normal run. Consider yourself warned.
With fantastic controls, well-done 8-bit art, and superb puzzle platforming, Escape Goat is an easy pickup, and certainly a steal at $4.99. Next time you decide you need that extra big gulp from the Kwik-e-Mart, save your fiver and train your brain by picking this up instead. I kid you not, you won’t regret it.