(Developer: Magical Time Bean)
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally writing this review for one of the most well-produced Xbox Live indie games of the year. Yeah, big surprise as to what the final verdict is going to be, right? Even so, I think it’s important to go over why it’s a great game, not just that it is, in fact, great. So onward!
Escape Goat is all about a purple goat and his mouse companion, both with bizarre powers. For some reason, the poor duo have been tossed into a magical prison and have to work together in order to reacquire their freedom. And they’ll have to survive 50+ rooms full of traps as well as waking up a few sheep along the way. It might be a weird idea, but it’s certainly not cliche.
The mechanics are of the always fantastic “simple to learn, difficult to master” variety. The goat can jump, double-jump and ram various switches and obstacles, while the mouse just sort of runs around. Although if players can find the magical hat, the goat can switch places with the mouse at the touch of a button. It’s a little unfair to write the mouse off as useless, though. The little guy can fit through narrow spaces, trigger out-of-reach switches and distract fireball-spewing enemies. He’s quite useful, actually.
Even though the gameplay is cool, the graphics are awesomely retro and the music is phenominal, the rooms themselves kind of steal the show. The puzzles are clever and all, but what’s really impressive about them is how entire rooms can reconfigure themselves in real time. Like, completely. Like a “living labyrinth” according to the press release. I don’t disagree with that comparison. This dynamic isn’t just sweet to watch, it keeps players on their toes and opens up insane possibilities in the level editor. And yes, there is a level editor.
I’ve played a lot of Xbox Live indies over the past few years, and while most of them suck there are plenty of good ones. But while there are a lot of “good” games out there, I can probably count the number of truly stand-out titles on both hands. Without a doubt, Escape Goat is one of those ten. I urge everyone with an Xbox 360, and internet connection and anything resembling love/like/tolerance for platformers to check it out.