Escape Goat is a puzzle platforming game that puts the player in the role of a purple goat that has been imprisoned for the crime of witchcraft. Your goal is to escape the fearsome prison of Agnus, and to do so you'll have to clear several sets of single screen rooms by reaching the exit. Doing so is harder than it sounds, since each room is challenging in its own way. Fortunately, you have some good platforming skills at your disposal, including a double jump and a dash move. Plus, you've managed to enlist the help of a friendly mouse, who proves to be very useful indeed.
The platforming in Escape Goat works very nicely, with tight controls and a gentle learning curve. However, the real challenge comes in the form of the puzzles. Each level is a giant puzzle that must be solved, with many of them requiring you go reach a key (or keys) before you can move on to the exit. Most levels have several switches in them that you must activate to clear a pathway out. There is a certain amount of trial and error involved since it's virtually impossible to tell what hitting a switch in a level will actually do, but that is very much a part of finding a solution to the level. This is where your rodent friend comes into play, as you can send him scurrying along walls and ceilings to get to places and switches you can't reach yourself. You can also call him back to you at any time, and he'll instantly return via some sort of magical teleportation. There are several features added along the way (like magical hats, pressure sensitive switches, and fireball throwing reapers) that help keep the puzzles fresh and interesting.
The graphics in Escape Goat have a distinct retro look to them, and the music (which is excellent) matches them perfectly. The storyline is minimal, yet bizzare and quite funny.
The main reason to recommend Escape Goat, besides the great puzzles, is that it's immensely fun to play. The tight controls and clever level design make the game immediately enjoyable. Even when you die or get trapped, quick restarts and the size of the levels keep things from getting frustrating, and you'll find yourself wanting to have "just one more try" on a regular basis.
I honestly believe this to be one of the finest titles on the XBox Live Indie channel, and now that the price has dropped to a paltry 80MSPs I'd consider it to easily be a "must buy".
I'm not a big platformer fan. Mostly because I generally suck at them. So, I was a little worried when I heard that MagicalTimeBean was making a platformer. I love Soulcaster and Soulcaster II so I decided I would play Escape Goat despite my concerns. I'm glad I did because the platforming was forgiving enough that I was able to beat most of the levels within a few tries. Sure, later on the levels get harder and take more effort, but I never felt like my skill was keeping me from progressing completely.
Beyond the normal ability to jump (and double-jump) you have a dash ability. This really helps if you have the height for the jump but not the distance. Just hit the dash and shoot on over to that platform. Saved me a number of times. While this is a single player game you are not alone in your in-game travels. Early on you get a mouse friend who can fit into areas smaller than you. You can't directly control him but can pick what direction he goes. On some levels you also get the ability to swap places with him.
The game is broken into 64 rooms that are grouped into areas of 6. Each group has a theme with a unique gameplay aspect or two. This keeps things going and fresh. I especially liked that if I got stuck in one set of rooms I could go back and try another area without loosing your progress in that area. This allowed me to pick of a few levels at a time without getting frustrated.
The story if completely hilarious. I finished the game after just under 3 hours and having dies 292 times. I knew I had died a lot but having a number on it made me realize how many times I would get myself stuck. Still, for $1 an hour this is a really fun game. You can play it in small chunks since each room is just 1 screen that you need to escape from.