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A Way Out Review

by Hazelight Studios 0 text

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Escape Plan: Laundry Cart Edition!

"A Way Out" is a distinctive cooperative adventure that pushes the boundaries of narrative storytelling in video games. Developed by Hazelight Studios and released in 2018, it presents a unique split-screen cooperative gameplay that is mandatory; two players are required to team up, either locally or online, to escape from prison and stay on the run. Unlike conventional multiplayer games, "A Way Out" does not offer a single-player experience, making its cooperative play not just a feature but the core of its design.

Gameplay 7

"A Way Out" introduces gameplay that is tightly interwoven with its story, a rarity in the gaming world where often gameplay and narrative feel disconnected. The game requires two players to collaborate constantly through split-screen gameplay, regardless of playing online or side-by-side. This method brings a fresh perspective on cooperative mechanics, making every decision and action in the game impactful on both players’ experiences.

The game transitions smoothly between different gameplay styles—from stealth and action sequences to mini-games like playing basketball or arm wrestling. This variety ensures that the gameplay remains engaging throughout the approximately six to eight hours needed to complete the campaign. Players control Leo and Vincent, who each have their own backstories and reasons for escaping prison. The interaction between these two characters is not only a narrative device but also a gameplay mechanic, as players must coordinate their actions, from distracting guards to climbing out of prison.

The puzzles in "A Way Out" are designed with cooperation in mind, requiring players to communicate effectively and work together to solve them. While none of the puzzles are particularly groundbreaking in originality or difficulty, they are integrated well into the story, making them feel meaningful rather than just obstacles.

One downside is the game's linearity; there is little to no replay value once completed. The path through the game is largely predetermined, and while the narrative provides some choices, these do not significantly affect the progression or outcome of the story.

Graphics 8

The visual presentation of "A Way Out" is one of its strong points. The game uses Unreal Engine 4, which allows for detailed environments and character models. The setting of a 1970s American backdrop is convincingly realized, from the textures of the prison to the lush, outside environments as the narrative progresses.

The split-screen format is used not only as a gameplay mechanic but also as a narrative and visual tool. It allows the game to present scenes from different perspectives simultaneously, which enhances the storytelling by showing simultaneous reactions and parallel actions. The cinematic approach, with frequent cutscenes and changes in camera angles, provides a movie-like experience that suits the dramatic tone of the game.

Despite these strengths, there are occasional graphical glitches and some environments look less polished than others, which slightly detracts from the immersion.

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Storyline 9

The storyline of "A Way Out" is compelling and well-crafted. It starts with a simple premise: two convicts, Leo and Vincent, who initially know little about each other, must work together to escape from prison. As they progress on their journey, their personal backstories and motivations are revealed, adding layers to their characters and to the overall narrative.

The strength of the story lies in its character development and the evolving relationship between Leo and Vincent. Their trust builds as they face various challenges together, which not only drives the narrative forward but also deepens the player's emotional investment in their journey. The plot twists towards the end are impactful and provide a satisfying conclusion to their saga.

The dialogue is realistic and the voice acting is strong, which helps in maintaining the authenticity of the experience. The emotional depth and personal stakes make the story memorable.

Multiplayer 9

Since multiplayer is a core component of "A Way Out," its execution is critical, and the game excels in this area. The forced split-screen co-op is a bold design choice that pays off by making the players’ cooperation a constant necessity. The game’s design ensures that both players are equally involved in the progression of the game, which keeps the experience engaging for both parties.

The way the game handles story and player interaction is innovative, as players must sometimes handle separate tasks that are crucial to both their individual and collective progress. This creates moments of tension and release that are shared in a very immediate way, enhancing the connection between players.

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Issues and Community Feedback

Feedback from the community highlights the innovative approach to co-op play as a refreshing change from the more traditional multiplayer games. However, some players expressed disappointment over the lack of replay value and the linear progression of the story. Despite these criticisms, the overall reception remains overwhelmingly positive, with particular praise for the storytelling and character development.

Conclusion 8

"A Way Out" is a bold experiment in interactive storytelling, blending gameplay and narrative in a way that is rarely seen in video games. While it has its limitations, such as linear gameplay and limited replay value, the overall experience is memorable and engaging, especially for those looking for a cooperative gaming experience. The game successfully delivers on its promise of a shared narrative adventure, making it a must-play for fans of story-driven games.

Pros and Cons

  • Innovative co-op
  • Engaging story
  • Strong character development
  • Limited replay value
  • Linear progression

Player Quotes

"Finally, a game that actually requires you to play together!"

"The story really pulls you in, felt like watching a thriller movie with a friend."

"Would love more games like this, but wish it had more branches or endings."

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Please note that this review is based on the feedback and sentiments of players on various Reddit threads and does not represent the views of all players.