I got a chance to review Escape Goat last year and it ended up being one of my biggest surprises of 2013. It was a charming puzzle platform game that taxed both your mental reasoning and dexterity. Since then, I have been very anxious to give the sequel a try. Escape Goat 2 is developed by MagicalTimeBean and published by Double Fine Productions. You can purchase it on Steam, GOG or directly from the developer at http://www.escapegoat2.com/. Buying direct gives you a DRM free copy and a Steam key and gives the developer a bigger chunk of your purchase coin, so that’s the way to go if you ask me.
So the hard part of this review is that not much has changed from the first game. There are the obvious visual and audio changes; graphics and music have been upgraded from being 8-bit inspired to lush hand-drawn graphics with nice lighting effects with unrestricted music. I loved the 8-bit look (and sound) of the original but the change in style works well and helps the game stand out a little bit. Outside of that, Mouse gets a few new abilities, there are a few new stage gimmicks, stage progression is handled through a world map (where you can freely revisit rooms at whim) and most importantly, the game has a crazy amount of stages over its predecessor.
Basically, it’s just overall bigger and better than the first game in every way.
If you didn’t play the first game (or read my review of it), Escape Goat is a single screen action puzzle platform game. The goal of every stage is simply to get to the exit door. You are a purple goat with a red mouse friend. Goat can jump, dump jump, dash and summon Mouse to assist. Mouse can climb walls and ceilings, squeeze into small spaces and, depending on the stage, magically swap places with Goat, summon multiple doppelgangers, dash to the opposite wall or become a solid block. You have to use the skills of both characters is a plethora of different ways to complete each stage.
The beauty of Escape Goat is how much variety the game throws at you with its limited tools. There are over a hundred stages and rarely are you solving rooms in the same fashion. Some rooms simply require dexterity where you jump and dash your way through an obstacle course, other rooms require careful puzzle solving and many rooms require a careful balance of both skill sets. I often found myself overjoyed and how clever the game presented solutions to rooms with already established mechanics.
The game is also carefully mapped out for players of varying levels. The initial set of stages will take you through to the ending of the game and by my estimation, runs at about the length of the first Escape Goat. After that, a second set of optional stages opens up that are slightly more difficult. And for the truly adventurous (or insane), there’s a third set of stages that not only have to be found, through rather obtuse means (the map at least helps you locate where secrets MIGHT be), that are the game’s ultimate test of your goat and mouse skills.
Overall, Escape Goat 2 is a massive bump up from the original game, even if there are not stark differences in the core mechanics. If you enjoyed the first game (or puzzle platform games in general), you will probably enjoy Escape Goat 2. I only have two minor complaints. The first is that there seems to be a lot more stages where you can get stuck and need to trigger a restart. It’s not a huge issue, to be honest, but having to “die” because you didn’t know what a button did instead of being able to reverse it feels oddly defeating. The second comes from the game’s complete lack of direction in regards to secret rooms. I like figuring out HOW to unlock a secret room, but the game never seems to tell you that they exist (in fact, I only found out by accident). Of course, the game’s little bits of text are often cryptic, so maybe the game DID tell me and I just didn’t notice it.
Escape Goat 2 does not contain any violent content (Goat explodes in a cartoon fashion if defeated) or anything else to note here. Some of the game’s later (and mostly optional) stages can be difficult, but I like to gives kids the benefit of doubt and I think that if a kid enjoying the game, they may overcome the trials presented. –Leroy Capasso