Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for A Way Out
Already this year, we have seen some truly amazing games come out like Celeste, Monster Hunter World, and God of War, just to name a few. With so many great games coming out around the same time, there have been quite a few that have, sadly, been a bit overlooked. The game that comes to mind right away is Hazelight Studio’s most recent title, A Way Out. The game has done well critically, primarily hovering around a seven or eight out of ten from most major websites and has sold over a million copies in its first two weeks. Yet, I have not seen or heard any buzz about A Way Out. Which is pretty unfortunate because the game tells a great story in such a unique and interesting way.
A Way Out launched around the same time as Far Cry 5 and Sea of Thieves, and both were all over the place being covered by most video game outlets. A Way Out just didn’t receive nearly the same amount of coverage. It’s rather upsetting. It isn’t even a full priced game, it was only thirty dollars at launch which is a steal for a game of its quality. Of course, it does have some weak points with some of the dialogue and it has a slow start at the beginning; but those minor gripes are quickly forgotten the further into the game you get. Between the split-screen co-op gameplay, gorgeous camera transitions/cinematics, and a surprisingly touching story, A Way Out is easily one of the most underappreciated games so far this year. Not to mention an early ‘Game of the Year’ contender for me.
The game begins with one of our main characters, Vincent arriving at the prison where he meets another inmate named Leo. Each of them has their own unique personality that is radically different from each other. Leo is more of a hot head who prefers to settle things with his fist, whereas Vincent is calm and prefers to handle situations in a more thought out and planned manner. After a turn of events, the two end up in a fist fight together with another group of inmates; from that point on a bond was made. It just so happened, both have a vendetta against a man named Harvey and decide to break out of prison to get their revenge on him. The game cuts back and forth between the two on a plane having a conversation with each other and the story of how they got to that point in time. The game plays out like a movie and honestly feels like one too.
Unlike other games, A Way Out must be played with two people, either split-screen with a local friend or online. I would highly recommend playing with a friend in the same room with you as. It enhances the experience of the gameplay — at least for me, it did. At first, I was worried that the gameplay would feel like a clunky gimmick with it being split-screen the whole time, but I ended up not even noticing it after a while. In fact, I don’t think this game could be done any other way. The camera fades back and forth depending on whose ever side was more important at that point in the game, so it never felt overwhelming. The only issue I had with it was certain parts of the dialogue overlapping when both characters were speaking to NPC’s at the same time.
The Little Things
While playing, one of my co-op partner’s and my favorite parts was the multitude of little mini-games that were available. These mini-games in include activities like playing the instruments, baseball, and even the weightlifting (which I totally won at). We keep track of who won the most and made a contest out of it. These mini-games were the most unnecessary activities to do but ended up being a highlight of the game for us. There were so many moments where we would stop to play around trying to beat each other in what seems like meaningless tasks like arm wrestling or darts. This is one of the reasons why I encourage others to play with a friend. It’s a bonding experience between not only the characters but the players as well.
Aside from the mini-games, there are several moments that require the utmost cooperation and communication to proceed. It may not be very difficult, but it does create humorous moments for the players. There are also are more consequential sequences that affect how the next scene will play out — by either choosing Vincent’s or Leo’s way — although, they never dramatically changed the story. But are still a blast to take part in either way.
Because of the unique two-person gameplay, A Way Out has some amazing scenes and transitions that are a thrill to experience. A great example would be the hospital scene, where the guys are separated when the cops show up. Using a single camera shot that seamlessly transitions between each Vincent and Leo as they both are attempting to make it out of the hospital without being caught was truly a visual spectacle. There are several moments throughout the game that uses these clever transitions that make you feel like you are watching a movie.
A Must Play
Despite the slow beginning and some rough dialogue, A Way Out is a game that has to be seen through to the end to see what happens to our two main characters. I won’t go into any spoilers because it is an absolute must-play game this year that features many memorable moments between these two characters as they ban together to get revenge on a person who wronged them. The game does an excellent job of making you care about these two characters in a short amount of time while telling a great story that gets you emotionally invested. It’s a shame that it came out when it did, but it’s certainly not too late to go out and pick up a copy for you and friend to enjoy.