Saturday, 23 June 2018

A Way Out ★★★★☆

Console co-op experiences are few are far between, so A Way Out is an interesting proposition. The prison escape game has no solo campaign and no form of traditional online matchmaking. Instead, you’re able to send an invite to anyone on your friends list, and after a short download, they’ll be able to jump online to play along with you. It’s a novel idea, helping to get rid of most of the problems that arise when attempting to play a game with friends. There's no worrying about trade-in prices or additional costs, and you won't have to enter the experience with a random child from another country. (I’m looking at you, Fortnite.)

Keeping in line with the co-op focus, you’ll have to choose which of the two main protagonists is under your control, with the decision locked in thereafter. There’s the calm and collected Vincent Moretti, just starting a stretch for a range of crimes which culminated in murder. Leo Caruso is the second option, representing a more traditional type of career criminal. He's tougher and more aggressive, with previous experience of prison life and a surly demeanour to boot. Both men have different strengths and weaknesses, and you'll have to work as a team to have any hope of unlocking one of the better endings for the duo. The two escapees are often separated in some shape or form, with the camera split through the middle so you can always see what the other is up to. 

Gameplay involves a typical array of ATB style events, coupled with a puzzle or two to solve. They're not the most taxing of tasks, but gameplay often takes a backseat to accommodate telling the story as fluidly as possible. With only 6-8 hours on offer, it's probably best served in a sitting or two. The length is reflected in the accessible price tag, and it's not long enough to get repetitive. That being said, there's not much room for replayability, despite the option to do it all again from the perspective of the other half of the duo or to aim for a different ending.

The world is also vaguely empty, and there's little to do aside from working towards whatever objective is presented to you at the time. When you study the rules of the universe, it's not a particularly complex game, but that doesn't detract from the overall feel. When it works; it's one of the best ways to spend time with a friend. Be it desperately trying to avoid the glare of guards on patrol, or fighting off half of the prison when things go awry at the beginning.

If you have a particular gaming partner in mind, it's well worth having a look at one of the better co-op titles of recent years. You'll only have to send them an invite to get started, and the story grips you from the very beginning. It's nowhere near perfect, and it'll never live up to the hype it saw before release, but A Way Out is still worth spending a rainy afternoon or two with, even if it’ll be gathering dust forever after.

James Millin-Ashmore

A Way Out at CeX

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