Escape Goat 2 is a puzzle game for PC and Mac. It is indie developer Magical Time Bean’s fourth released game and a direct sequel to the original Escape Goat. Escape Goat 2 builds on the foundations of the first game and presents an overall improvement in aesthetic and game design.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward. Escape Goat 2’s early stages act as a tutorial, teaching players the basics. Each stage consists of a single screen with various obstacles. Players control a goat wandering through a dungeon full of trapped sheep souls.
The goal of each stage is to unlock the exit door by collecting all of the keys. This is easier said than done – enemies and obstacles run rampant through the stages. Some enemies swing a scythe and throw fireballs while spinning blades attempt to slice the goat into pieces. Death is impermanent – players simply restart the level from the beginning. Gameplay is fun and engaging and, because there is no real consequence for death, the only impediment to solving puzzles is frustration.
The titular goat can move left and right, double jump and dash forward. It sounds pretty basic but the real depth comes from the secondary character, a little orange mouse. With the push of a button, the mouse starts walking around the level, outside of the player’s control. This becomes useful for flipping switches in hard to reach places. This core mechanic is what drives gameplay.
For the most part this presents a fun dynamic where the player often has to manage the mouse while navigating the goat out of harm’s way. In later levels, there are a few new tools given to players, including a magic hat. The magic hat allows the goat to switch places with the mouse. The cape of vengeance allows the mouse to fly across the screen to the opposite wall and the tiny hammer turns the mouse into a solid block. These abilities add variety to an otherwise simple concept
Escape Goat 2 is a gorgeous game. It has an old-school look but a modern polish. Whereas the original Escape Goat had an 8-bit look and feel, the sequel brings to mind a more modern indie vibe. Character designs are simple but effective. The goat is purple except for green horns and the mouse is a bright orange. These vibrant character designs are contrasted against darker level coloring, making it easy to visually identify the characters.
Animations have a hand-drawn look and the lighting effects add ambiance and sometimes affect the challenge of a level. There is one level in particular that is entirely dark except for the area directly around the goat.
The world map is a large stained glass window, with each zone being a different color. As you progress through the game, more visual flair becomes added to the world map until it creates a beautiful mosaic. Levels have a variety of art styles ranging from a library, a forest, Egyptian and industrial.
The music fits the themes perfectly. The tracks often sound like classic video game chiptunes. Music is varied and transitions smoothly between levels, solidifying the ambiance and setting the mood.
Early stages are painfully straightforward, but that is to be expected as the game shows players the ropes. Most of the puzzles are satisfying to solve. Through a little trial and error and a few deaths, the answers become clear. There is a linear path through the world map as well as side zones. You can only progress so far through the main path before having to go collect souls from the side zones in order to progress further.
The difficulty curve progresses gradually at first but there seems to be an abrupt jump late in the game. Some rooms require players to take a step back and re-think their assumptions about gameplay. There are times when the game tries to trick players into thinking one way when they really must use an entirely different approach. For the most part, the difficulty is reasonably challenging but there are some puzzles that are so baffling they make players want to put the game down and go play something else.
Having very little in the way of story or progression makes it so any given puzzle isn’t overly satisfying to solve. There are some puzzles later in the game that require precise timing and these can prove frustrating, especially when having to wait for a timed event to resolve.
Escape Goat 2 is a very fun game with a distinctly pleasing aesthetic. The controls are easy to grasp and the challenges are satisfying. Later levels step up the difficulty in a way that isn’t quite as fun. The game is a joy to look at and listen to and it’s worth a play through.