A Way Out, a game based around two prisoners who both bond over their desires to break out of their prison surroundings, well, I guess a game about being a good prisoner by doing your time, developing a useful set of work related skills and being released early on good behaviour wouldn’t make a compelling story mode.
Straight off the bat, the game reminds you that this isn’t a game that can be played alone, there is no single player mode, only co-op, and while you can go through the whole thing with an online friend, A Way Out reminds everyone of the wonders of couch co-op. The game plays through its story entirely split screen, which makes sense if you’re sat there with a friend, but gets extremely confusing if you’re playing with a friend online, not the worst gaming experience you’ll have, just baffling.
The game slowly starts to introduce the new characters, first starting with Vincent – who’s about to start a 14-year sentence for embezzlement and fraud, and Leo – six months into an eight-year stretch for armed robbery. The two soon-to-be pals form a friendship and decide to break out of prison, after they bond through courtyard beatings and literally two or three conversations.
It’s no spoiler to say they get out: the title’s a pretty big clue, it would be a pretty pointless game if they didn’t, not sure if this is deemed as a spoiler, but Leo and Vincent are two of the worst prisoners because at every chance they make the most noise, if A Way Out had any drop of challenge, the sound could play a factor. As the story plays out, you could make a bingo card with every prison/action movie cliché that defies logic throughout, with two or three set pieces actually taken directly from films, such as; timing making a large noise with thunder claps – ripped straight from Shawshank Redemption.
The story runs along at a brisk pace that easily keeps both players interested, but it does take a while to set up the scene, then the action ramps up in the later stages with all the action sequences (and crashes to a halt when you’re distracted with the minigames.) The game plays like a paint-by-numbers Hitman, to complete the end task the game tells you what you need to do, taking out all exploration and challenge with the game. The co-op aspect works by one player completing a task and the other player forming distractions, or a set of high places that both characters need to access, forming a human step-ladder – it’s really basic gameplay.
The set-piece fights are laughably bad, a series of the same button quick time events, and set-piece pursuits that see you running, riding or driving away from danger, often down fairly straight routes, with the camera sporadically giving you a helpful nudge in the right direction. At least they’re often well-staged, one of the best sequences is the hospital scene, effortlessly changing the camera between both characters in two different locations with no camera cuts, if it was a movie, it’ll be award worthy.
One of A Way Out’s biggest problems what I mentioned earlier, there is almost no challenge, the time given in each section is laughable, as there is no option to change the difficulty, you have to live with it. The worst offender of this is during the final act, when you’re meant to make your way through a series of enemies, you can make it through the entire chapter by comically knocking out each guard. Weirdly, one of the highlights is the minigames, as you’re playing this along with a friend, you’re almost encouraged to dick around, back to the hospital chapter – there is a game of Connect 4 in the lobby, which myself and Ben soaked more time into playing that than the rest of the chapter.
The game has such a deep flavour of indie, due to the voice acting not being AAA game worthy and some of the lines being incredibly cliché – there’s having your inspirations, and then there’s copyright. I actually encourage anyone to play action movie cliché bingo, with like such as – “With or without you, I’m going after him” and “She knows me better than I know myself”—and when you can’t you have to cope with some forced banter that both leads sound embarrassed to deliver. As a result, the stabs at emotion in the final third are probably the funniest bits of the game.
A Way Out really tries to be thought-provoking, tear-jerking and tries incredibly hard to make Leo and Vincent likeable, even though they actually are very unlikeable characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it until publishers listen to me – co-op horror and co-op emotional stories do not work, but that doesn’t stop A Way Out from giving it a good go. It is a harmless game, has some good ideas but the execution falls short, but I applauded a game for being half the normal cost, that allows you to play with a friend for free.
A Way Out
A great gaming idea with a rather poor execution with extremely basic quick time events, the basic story is poor yet somehow engaging but saved by the minigames.
- Brilliant minigames
- Fun co-op
- Well-staged sequences
- Poor quick time events
- Basic story
- No challenge