A Way Out
A Way Out is a cooperative narrative experience created by Hazelight Studios. Directed by Josef Fares, film director turned game designer, whose previous creation was Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Before beginning, both players will need to select who they want to play. Vincent is the cooler-headed of the two while Leo is more impulsive. The game was built from the ground up to support – nay, require – cooperative play. Requiring cooperative play, however, does not mean that two people need to purchase the game. Anyone is free to download and play the full game as long as they join someone who bought it.
The Two Convicts
A Way Out has two main characters, as expected from a cooperative game. Leo Caruso is a prison inmate who has served six months of his eight-year sentence. Vincent Moretti is another inmate who is freshly incarcerated and sentenced to fourteen years. Each of these characters has their own distinct personality that can be seen during the game. Leo is impulsive, often resorting to violence and tackling issues head-on. Vincent is strategic, opting to sneak or fast-talk his way out of situations.
Players will often have to choose together how to handle a situation. One example of this is when both characters are in an elevator and a security guard gets on with them. The guard starts to recognize the two convicts so a quick decision must be made. Vincent’s way of handling the situation is by faking a contagious disease while Leo wants to knock him out. The different choices made by the players can lead to radically different outcomes in each scene.
An Identity Crisis
A Way Out often feels like a game that doesn’t know what it wants to be in terms of gameplay. The game switches between puzzle-adventure, stealth-action, 2.5D brawler, and third-person shooter. It seemed that almost every chapter played a different way. With all the variety comes a tradeoff though; none of the mechanics are as fulfilling as games dedicated to them. The brawling, when it’s not just quick-time events, was simple and short-lived. The stealth sections were unrefined and presented little challenge. The shooting was not as fluid and responsive as it could have been, but the destructible environments were impressive.
Not only was the game varied in gameplay, it was also varied in side activities. From playing darts, basketball, and baseball to exercising, arm wrestling, and balancing wheelchairs there is a wide variety in terms of side activities. The activities do offer needed break from the intense storyline and each of them was fun to play. I spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to best my partner-in-crime in arm wrestling before my hand started to cramp after a solid 5 minutes of tapping ‘X’ and I caved.
Story, Story, Story
The story that A Way Out has to tell is where the game really shines. Hazelight weaves a tale of redemption that is nearly unmatched in today’s gaming landscape. The characters all have realistic motivations for their actions and are relatable. It is easy to immerse yourself in the characters and the narrative being told. While it does become a little cliché towards the end, it quickly turns it around. Without spoiling anything, A Way Out has one of the most gut-wrenching endings of any game in recent memory. It is definitely worth it to stick this one out until the very end. As much as I’d like to speak more on the story, it is something that should be experienced in its entirety.
A Way Out is a remarkably unique experience. The game offers a beautiful and engaging story with memorable characters. The gameplay, while lacking in technical implementation, is by no means bad. It was released at a price of $30 which is more than fair for what it provides. Hazelight has succeeded in their mission to create a truly unique cooperative experience. It is superbly impressive seeing the product of this independent studio come to fruition and live up to its expectations. The game is worth picking up and sharing with a friend.
Replay Value: 7/10