Escape Goat 2

Video Review: Link

“Games I Like on OpenBSD” - A New Series

This is a new series of articles and/or videos of games that I can recommend on OpenBSD. In contrast to Let’s Play videos, the purpose of this format is to present a game in a shorter format, including how to run it on OpenBSD, what the game is like, what issues to expect. I can’t make promises about the frequency of new updates. With my work schedule, I would hope to do 2–5 per month for now (until I may run out of content).

About This Game

Escape Goat 2 is the successor of Escape Goat, an indie puzzle platformer by Magical Time Bean. Escape Goat 2 was released in 2014 for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It builds on the formula of its predecessor, with some refinements (most notably in the visuals) and new puzzles.

Disclaimer: I haven’t finished the game, and if its predecessor is anything to go by, there will probably be a “New Game Plus” mode, extending the challenge to a length that I will probably never complete. I have completed about two thirds of the rooms on the main map as of the time of writing.

How to Run This Game on OpenBSD

This is pretty straightforward. As long as you run on an OpenBSD platform with a mono(1) port (currently limited to amd64 and i386 to my knowledge), simply install the port ‘fnaify’ with

# pkg_add fnaify

(as root). Download the game - in my case this is the Linux version of the game obtained from HumbleBundle. Extract the game with

$ unzip escapegoat2–05212014-bin

Then you can find the game files in the directory data. Change directory into data:

$ cd data

Now run fnaify (version 3.0 or greater):

$ fnaify

This performs setup for the game and runs it.

One note about using game controllers. The game controllers attach to a uhid0 etc device in /dev/ and the device needs to be user readable in order for the gamepad support to work. Unfortunately, the number of the uhid device may not be consistent between reboots, so you need to check in your dmesg(1) what uhid the game controller has attached to.

If it is attached to uhid0, you can enable it by running the following as root:

# chmod +r /dev/uhid0

Alternatively, make yourself the owner of the device node (again as root):

# chown this_user /dev/uhid0

While any comparison with Linux system requirements is only speculative, the system requirements listed on the Steam store page can serve as a guideline to see if your system should be able to run this game:

MINIMUM: Processor: 1.8 GHz Memory: 1 GB RAM Graphics: OpenGL 3.0+ support (2.1 with ARB extensions acceptable) Storage: 200 MB available space

RECOMMENDED: Processor: 2.4 GHz Memory: 2 GB RAM Graphics: OpenGL 3.3+ support Storage: 200 MB available space

My Setup

I am running this game on an Intel i7–10700 with 8GB of DDR4 storage and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630. The OS is OpenBSD-current from 2020–11–16. I use an XBox 360 wired gamecontroller for this game.

What Works? What Doesn’t?

The game works overall well without problems on my setup. The game feels ever so slightly laggier than its predecessor. This may be due to the overall improved visuals with dynamic light effects. It would be interesting to compare this to how it feels on Linux or Windows, but it’s not a game breaker. Gamepad works fine, and no issues with the audio.

Starting The Game

After urging you subtly to play the game with a game controller, Escape Goat 2 greets you with a traditional game menu that allows you to start a game, resume a previous game, adjust settings, and view the credits. The game has abandoned the pixel look of its predecessor, now showing rich colors and smooth outlines. The main menu already feels like a generational leap in graphics, although I’m sure some will miss the pixellated look of Escape Goat 1.

Main menu of the game.
Main menu of the game.

Settings

The game offers a decent amount of settings for its simplicity. Graphics options include windowed/ fullscreen toggle, choosing the resolution from 800x600 to full Desktop resolution. Vertical sync can be turned on or off. In a game like this, the slightly increased responsiveness with VSync disabled is likely not worth the tearing that is more likely to appear. Details can be adjusted with “World Detail” and “Lighting Detail”. Even HDR is an option, although I don’t have an HDR monitor and can’t comment on whether this works or not.

The graphics settings.
The graphics settings.

Music and sound effects volumes can be adjusted separately. That’s about all you need for audio in a game like this.

Despite the simple controls, the button assignment can be adjusted in a sub-menu. The commands are “Jump”, “Dash”, “Summon”, “Use Hat”, and “Retry”.

One notable section is “Mutators”. Here you can enable a Speedrunner Overlay that shows a time counter in the upper left corner, compared to your best time. Other parts appear to be an “achievements” section, that includes “Super Meat Goat”, described as “Die 400 times”, and others. Infinite jumps and explosive mouse appear to function as “cheat codes” that can help you over difficult passages. I have not tried them.

Graphics

As mentioned already above, the visual style has been changed significantly since the game’s predecessor. The most notable aspects are the dynamic lighting and the now smooth rather than pixellated look. This is ultimately a matter of taste and some may prefer the visuals of Escape Goat 1, but for me, the new visual features with max settings work well esthetically and give the game a more “premium” feel than the pixel look.

The art of the menus and levels is overall well done. Different areas have different themes - woods, library, etc. This doesn’t have any effect on the gameplay, but helps you understand what section of the game world you are in.

If you want to try the game with reduced settings, I recommend staying away from reducing the world detail. It seems to reduce the resolution of the sprites, which would be great if it led to a sharp pixellated look like in Escape Goat 1, but instead it turns everything blurry and there doesn’t seem to be a way around the blurriness.

Highest graphics settings with high quality and highest lighting setting.
Highest graphics settings with high quality and highest lighting setting.
Lowest graphics settings.
Lowest graphics settings.

Sound

Many sounds have been carried over from Escape Goat 1. Some of the sound effects sound a bit “weird”, like the one when you die. Exploding barrels/boxes make a nice pop. The music is nice and relaxing, mostly piano music. Overall, the sound is perfectly serviceable and helps the relaxed, meditative mood.

Controls

The controls are very simple and you are introduced to them over the first few levels. It’s one of these games where you will have to learn to apply the same set of simple controls to increasingly complex puzzle worlds. The simplicity is key because you want to be thinking about the puzzles and the timing, rather than trying to fight the controller. This works very well with the gamepad controls in their default layout on an XBox 360 controller. Keyboard controls are also an option, but are likely a little less intuitive to master.

Non-obtrusive tutorial messages are displayed in the first few levels, here for double jumping.
Non-obtrusive tutorial messages are displayed in the first few levels, here for double jumping.

While the simplicity is great and nicely done, I can’t fully get over the laggy feel of the controls. This does not feel as tight as Celeste, for example. Your goat seems to keep more momentum than it should given its size, and sometimes that leads to falling off a cliff to your death. Of note, there is a long tradition of floaty, laggy platformer controls in puzzle platformers. One example of that is FEZ. I don’t know if that is just meant to make the game feel not too easy; but I think tighter controls would have made for a better and less frustrating gaming experience.

After a while, the lagginess fades into the background, as my brain adjusts to it; until there is a tight jump/platforming section with time pressure where the problem with the controls suddenly raises to my awareness again. This is not a gamebreaking problem, but feels like the main downside in an otherwise very enjoyable game.

Gameplay

The first few levels introduce you to the basics with simple, non-obtrusive tutorials. Over time, the puzzles become more and more difficult.

Double jumping is one of the key mechanics to get around. Sometimes it can even save you from falling to your death.

The goat’s apparently best friend is a mouse. If you pick it up in a level, you can send it along walls to trigger switches and traps, for example. If you obtain the hat, you can additionally switch places with the mouse.

The mouse can reach switches that the goat cant get to.
The mouse can reach switches that the goat can’t get to.

This is most of what gets you around in levels, solving puzzles, findings keys, defeating or dodging enemies and traps. The rest is largely determined by the puzzles that the game sets up in each level for you. Typically, you complete a level by collecting keys and finding your way to the exit door. In the process, you may have to flip switches, dodge enemies, traps, and falls, explode barrels, and ride platforms.

The game is divided into different sections, with different background art and apparently some thematic arrangement of the puzzles.

You can see on a map how much you have explored. This map can be easily reviewed on the pause menu and gives you a good sense of how much of the game you have explored.

Especially later, when you got multiple paths that open up at once, you may run into a room where you can’t figure out the solution at the time. You can always restart a level with a button press, but if you can’t make progress, going for a different (hopefully easier room) is not made as simple. You can still do it by going to the menu, quitting to the main menu, and then loading your save slot. This isn’t too complicated, but it seems the design wanted to discourage this level switching, or maybe just overlooked this strategy for helping players deal with impasses.

There is a nice progression over time. Like in many games of this genre (thinking of Braid, for example), you may enter a room that looks at first impossible to solve. As you study the different elements of the room and try out different approaches, eventually you figure out the solution. This way you learn more and more about the game and build on your prior experience to solve later puzzles. Most of the time, the solution requires primarily to understand the elements of the level and use them correctly. The more frustrating levels are those that require higher skill in platforming and timing, as the “floatiness” of the controls makes those aspects of the game not the most enjoyable parts.

Levels requiring precise jumps can be frustrating.
Levels requiring precise jumps can be frustrating.

I want to point out the themes of the game seem to be somewhat revolving about religion. The main map looks like a church window, and the sheep that sit at the ends of levels seem to have some religious connotation. I’m not sure where this comes from and it seems a little unusual for a game like this. However, this is not very obtrusive and doesn’t deter from the gameplay. I would like to contrast this with Celeste that tries really hard to get a message about self-doubt and eventual self-acceptance across, often not very subtly.

There isn’t much plot to this game. You go through rooms sequentially, ultimately with the goal of escaping this labyrinth.

The overall mood of the game is best described as calm, meditative. I feel that this helps with dealing with some of the tougher rooms. Personally, I feel this helped me focus on the puzzle in the rooms where lots of things happen.

The goat died because of a trap.
The goat died because of a trap.

Conclusion

This is a nice indie game that will allow for a nice weekend of brain teasers and smart puzzle design. Its greatest strengths include the nice visuals, simple control scheme, interesting puzzles, and calm, contemplative mood. The nicely ramping difficulty curve kept me feeling challenged, but never overwhelmed. The main source of frustration is the “floatiness” of the controls. If you can deal with it, and ideally play with a gamepad, this is a perfectly enjoyable and entertaining puzzle platformer that runs flawlessly on OpenBSD. This is why I like this game and plan to finish it.