Whether or not you believe Josuf Fares purposely brought the attention that came with him to The Game Awards, his latest project A Way Out is definitely one that turned heads.
A Way Out is an interesting take on both local and online co-op. It’s also one that barely scratches the surface on what a game like this can do.
What Is It?
A Way Out puts players in the shoes of Vincent Moretti and Leo Caruso, two guys serving jail time for various reasons. Vincent is the older of the two men, and he brings a calm and collected demeanor to go along with his maturity. Leo is a bit of a firecracker who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty when it comes to getting what he wants. The game is primarily about escaping prison, and along the way you’ll learn more about the lives the duo led before ending up in the slammer.
The game can only be experienced through multiplayer, which can be enjoyed both on the couch offline or online. Should you decide to play with a friend online, the beauty of it all is you only need one copy of the game, and the player without a copy only needs to download the demo and sync up with you on whatever platform you’re using. Though it is worth noting that whether it’s over the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, you’ll need the premium version of either service.
The easiest comparison I can make to A Way Out is to think of a Telltale or Life is Strange kind of game with a whole lot more going on than just walking from point A to point B. It’s a multiplayer walking simulator that’ll have both players perform tasks both similar and different in the hopes of serving their purpose in the outside world.
Why Should I Care?
If you’re big on narrative and have friends who are the same way, A Way Out is an absolutely fun way to get through a weekend.
Most of the enjoyment I personally get out of Telltale-style games is had when other people are watching me play. Oftentimes, when people are watching, they’ll try to armchair quarterback the situation by telling me what to do. A game like A Way Out gives these kinds of people more control, and it really provides a more thrilling experience.
The problem is that since the game can only be played cooperatively, a lot of the actual gameplay feels forced. There are more than a few instances in the game where one player will be left walking around, literally wasting time while the other player performs a task that actually requires real effort. For example, there’s one point in the game where one player needs to make a phone call, doesn’t realize he has no change to make a call, and ends up buying junk in order to create change. So what does the other player do? Aside from walking around and engaging in idle chit chat with NPCs, there isn’t much else.
One of the game’s main talking points is with the decisions you’ll have to make when in control of Vince or Leo. As stated, Vince is more of a cerebral guy, whereas Leo can be more aggressive. As much as the game tries to sell you on their differing personalities, none of these decisions ever ended up hard because for most of the game, both of these guys are assholes. Even if you know that going in, the parts where you do have these decisions to make are few and far between.
The game is at its best when it challenges you to really work together. From taking turns digging holes behind a toilet in their cells while keeping the guards occupied, to cover-based gunplay where one shooter goes Sniper Elite while the other player goes Nathan Drake, the game definitely has some engaging moments, even if the gunplay leaves much to be desired. (It’s terrible).
The most welcome thing in A Way Out is actually the various interactive environments the characters are put in. Whether it’s jamming together on a piano and banjo, tossing some horseshoes, or enjoying a game of Connect Four at a hospital, it’s really easy to waste hours doing absolutely nothing essential that two escaped convicts have any business doing.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
While the cooperative gameplay is about as unique as it gets, A Way Out is littered with a bunch of clichés that make you wonder whether any creativity aside from what the game is was actually put into the game, but even at that, there’s a certain charm to the writing and characters that can’t but make you feel really engaged. As obvious as the ending ended up being, it still makes you think which could be Hazelight’s intent all along.
Considering this is from the same people that brought us Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, it would be interesting to see the guys at Hazelight work on something with that level of challenge using A Way Out‘s system, because this game actually does a fantastic job making a multiplayer game feel as involved and engaging as an 8-hour 70’s buddy movie.
A cooperative Uncharted, for example, seems awesome all of a sudden.