The highly-anticipated EA Original about escape prison, A Way Out is on its way! Thanks to EA we were able to check out the ambitious split-screen game a couple of days in advance. Here is our review of the Hazelight Studios product!
The Prison Break Experience
A Way Out is a cinematic co-op game that throws you into a maximum security prison as two convicts, Vincent and Leo. These two prisoners are hell-bent on escaping their prison diggs in favor of a life of freedom and getting revenge on the individual that did both of them wrong. While they may be partners, these two couldn’t be any more different. Leo is a hot-head with a knack for letting his fists do the talking. On the other hand, Vincent is more of the calm one, the smooth talker. While they don’t get along, at first, a common enemy and the confines of prison force them to become allies, in order to escape.
Much like a Telltale game, A Way Out is only a storyline experience. However, unlike Telltale, the Hazelight Studios game is surprisingly linear. Even though the events of the story causes excitement, thrills, and stress (especially if you’re my wife) I expected several methods of escape. Instead, the game thrusts you into the prison break without much setup and you’re forced to follow the steps laid out in front of you. Sure, there are moments where you choose what to do, but the end result is generally the same.
One of the main issues with the storyline is its over-the-top, unrealistic conversations. Both characters are interesting, but you almost wish that they wouldn’t talk to each other as much as they do. For a game that’s entirely based on co-oping an interactive campaign, having cringe-worthy dialogue is a major problem. Fortunately, the gameplay is enough to salvage what is an ambitious game.
Have A Little Help From My Friends
Much like Vincent and Leo are partners, director Josef Fares, of a Tale of Two Brothers fame and the energetic guy on every video game presentation yelling f-bombs, forces gamers to play alongside their friends either on the couch or online to co-op or couch co-op this story. In fact, what makes this game so interesting is the fact that there is literally no other way to finish this game without someone to help you out.
A Way Out employs a split-screen POV so both players can see what the other is doing so they can coordinate through different missions. Watching your partner’s screen while you try to focus on your own can be disorienting and distracting, at times, but it’s also one of the coolest, most surreal experiences a gamer can play through.
A Way Out’s split-screen feature plays like a well-established tag team. As you’re navigating through various challenges, there are several moments where you must rely on each other to execute the mission successfully and get out unseen. Without communication and perfect partnership, chances are you’ll get caught pretty quick. If the game hadn’t been split-screen, certain missions would be a walk in the park. Thankfully, that’s not the case.
The feature that makes this game so unique and original also happens to be the same thing that makes this game so cumbersome, at times. Being able to play co-op is a really cool way to play, but finding friends to play with you may not be the easiest to coordinate. That’s why single-player campaigns are so valuable. Unfortunately, gamers without friends playing the game can’t experience the story of A Way Out without a partner. Regardless, let’s say you do find a friend to play with, if you’re working with someone less experienced, you could find yourself staring at your partner do donuts by a wall or have to constantly yell at where to go.
Little Game With a Lot Going On
A Way Out plays out in fast-paced chapters. While these chapters are many in number, each include a different gameplay feature that allows the game to stay fresh. Just when you think the game is all about solving a puzzle to get a certain item, Hazelight throws in a cinematic fight scene, utilizing timed buttons. Then, in the next scene you may find yourself helping each other break out of your cells only to be linking arms and clicking a button at the right time, being careful not to get too ahead of your partner, so you don’t fall to your death.
On your first run through A Way Out, you’ll find yourself always doing something unexpected in each chapter. Being pleasantly surprised and always on the edge of your seat, with these challenges, takes what was already an exciting game to the next level. It’s as if Hazelight took the old saying “Variety is the spice of life” to heart when they were developing each chapter.
This EA Original is just that, original. It’s not the best written story, but it definitely is one of the better executed ones. Everything from the art-style to the differing gameplay makes A Way Out a must play. There are pivotal moments where the story breaks off course, but it still ends up in the same place, making it linear. I would’ve preferred more choice and being able to craft my own prison escape. However, just being able to experience it in general was a joy in and of itself.
So go on, find a friend, convince them to buy this game, and experience a prison escape game unlike anything you’ve played through before in the EA Original Hazelight Studios game, A Way Out.