I like to think of Escape Goat as “the little game that could”. Launching first on the highly flawed and crowed Xbox Indie Game Market, it garnered a cult following that pushed it ahead of the seemingly endless shovelware that littered the platform, eventually making its way to Steam and even getting a sequel. Despite the acclaim, I’ve been sitting on the sidelines, still unconvinced by the unimpressive graphics and seemingly basic design. As is often the case though, my first impressions couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Escape Goat more than lives up to its well deserved reputation.
Locked in a dungeon, you play as a magical goat with a magical mouse friend, on a journey to escape and bring with you the magical sheep who have been trapped for an eternity for crimes of witchcraft. To get to these sheep however you must first solve a series of puzzle rooms, the contents of which can be anything from harmless blocks to fire casting Reapers.
Because of its nonlinear structure, there isn’t any way for your abilities to grow overtime or otherwise have the game expand and evolve the further you get, but far from being a handicap the developer uses this potential limitation to craft remarkably consistent levels. There’s no gradual rise in difficulty or sharp spikes later on, but instead a constant stream of challenging but not frustrating level designs that feel incredibly satisfying to complete.
You may only have less than a handful of moves and abilities, but the ways these can be applied to levels continues to broaden as different areas showcase various applications of them that never would have occurred to me to even try. It’s this continual progression of what you think you can do without actually changing anything about your character that makes Escape Goat such a clever game to play. It rewards your own ingenuity without resorting to simply giving you a new mechanic to work with.
If you have yet to partake in the escape of Argus with your magical mouse friend, I’d advise you to delay no longer. Developer Magical Time Bean’s Escape Goat is a truly impressive achievement and a joyous game to play, who’s biggest flaw is it ends so soon (though perhaps it’s for the best, as it completely negates the chance for filler). Despite its dated look it manages to feel fresh and innovative the whole way through, and you’d be fool to do as I did and wait so long to give it a chance.