I would be first to admit that I am an incredibly casual gamer (it is likely that I have done so already), and I prefer to take my time with games and not feel too much under pressure to do too much too quickly. But at some point, when I was not concentrating, I somehow got into puzzle platformers, even such twitchy examples as Super Meat Boy and I Wanna Be the Guy. I first discovered Escape Goat on the Xbox Live Arcade, where for a while it was available exclusively. Eventually, thankfully, it became available for PC as well, with some exclusive extras thrown in for good measure.
The story of Escape Goat, such as it is, unfolds as you play, but the basics are obvious: you are a goat and you must escape from an increasingly perilous series of dungeons. Thankfully, you are not alone in this quest, as you have the assistance of a mouse and a magic hat, who can get you places you would otherwise be unable to reach. Your eventual aim is to collect the keys to unlock the exit to each room and then get to it in one piece.
In spite of appearances, the game is actually quite forgiving. The rooms within each world (each of which has its own unique tricks and traps) do get harder, but once you have beaten a room you can exit the world and resume later from where you left off. Therefore, should the frustration get too much for you, you can easily take a breather or try another world for a while. Some trial and error is necessary to work out how the world might respond to your interference, be it by pressing a button to open up another part of the level or setting in motion a chain of explosions to remove a stubborn obstacle. You can expect to die a good many times before working out the solution to a room.
Besides your half-pint companion, you will quickly learn that enemies and traps must at times also be harnessed to get to the exits.
There are 50 levels in the main part of the game, which took me two-and-a-half hours to get through. There is, however, almost unlimited scope for expansion. As well as there being an additional 50 hellishly difficult levels exclusive to the PC, for those who desire an even greater challenge, there is the ability to create your own worlds and share them with others. For your $5 (which also nabs you the rather excellent soundtrack), this is insane value for money.
Summary: Escape Goat is the perfect combination of clever, challenging and addictive, and contains more content than some games twice its price.
Verdict: 8 out of 10
Platforms: PC, XBox 360