December's Desura Dementia #3: Escape Goat

01/12/12 - Ballistic05/12/12 - Mutant Mudds09/12/12 - Slydris
02/12/12 - Band of Bugs06/12/12 - Oniken10/12/12 - Soulcaster
03/12/12 - Escape Goat07/12/12 - Outpost Kaloki11/12/12 - Squids
04/12/12 - MiniFlake08/12/12 - Reprisal12/12/12 - UnEpic

December the Third

Mosaic, mo' problems.
Mosaic, mo' problems.

The game: Magical Time Bean's Escape Goat

The source: Indie Royale June Bug Bundle

The pre-amble: Magical Time Bean, the Indie developers of a game series I'll be looking at later by the name of Soulcaster, would later create this insidious puzzle platformer game about a goat and a mouse escaping a bunch of mazes. I know, "Indie puzzle platformer" is a sequence of phonemes seemingly engineered to produce maximum eye rollage, but Escape Goat is far more puzzle than platformer. In fact, they sort of remind me of a long-dead sub-genre of single-screen platformers which relied on trial and error to figure out the solution, as activating certain elements on the screen can change the entire layout of a level in a flash. I wish I could think of better examples than obscure Amiga game Kid Gloves or the Game Boy Bill & Ted, but these things were everywhere once. Oh, the Adventures of Lolo series is another good one - it was lamentably easy to end up in a no-win situation with those games. I'm not entirely sure if that's what Escape Goat is purposefully evoking with its older style pixelly countenance, since pixels can mean anything from "I thought the NES/Genesis/SNES was cool you guys" to "I don't know how to draw graphics from this century" in an Indie game, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

One of the very few stages that's easier than it looks. Just keep hitting buttons and shit will no doubt occur.
One of the very few stages that's easier than it looks. Just keep hitting buttons and shit will no doubt occur.

The playthrough: I love Escape Goat. Though I suppose it'd be more accurate to say I loved it, since it appears to be over already. I mean, there's a master level set for masochists, but the main quest is a rather scant 65 screens of puzzle-y action. Progress is predicated on trying out the various switches in the vicinity, observing their effects on the level and deciphering the oft-byzantine method of reaching all the keys (when applicable) and, ultimately, the exit. It's actually smarter and more fun to play than it sounds, because the way you see everything shift around after a button press can often defy expectations. It's right out of the movie The Cube, but with farmyard animals instead of autistics.

While the game can be devious at times, it's never overly challenging, at least with its core missions. Some require split-second timing and reflexes, while others might need a deft touch at precision platforming your way across to the goal, but it's extremely fair. Death comes as naturally as the morning sun, but since each stage is a single screen you aren't losing much progress by resetting. There's a metric ton of puzzle platformers out there, but this is one of the breeziest and least agitating. It's helped considerably with a pretty decent soundtrack too, courtesy of Twisted Pixel maestro and frequent Giant Bomb guest Matt "Chainsaw" Chaney.

Thank you, wise sheep. This inexplicable tidbit might come in handy.
Thank you, wise sheep. This inexplicable tidbit might come in handy.

Importantly, for the purposes of this feature at least, it's the first game I've played on Desura that I was glued to until the very end. That probably counts for something. If whatever spare change that went to Magical Time Bean with the purchase of Escape Goat's bundle ends up helping them make their next game a little more substantial, I'm entirely OK with that.

The verdict: It's good, but I've beaten it. Maybe I'll go back to do those super challenging levels. Maybe.

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