Are you a budding Andy Dufresne or Michael Scofield? Want to see what it really takes to break out of prison? If A Way Out is anything to go by, it takes a lot of patience and absolutely no trust. Final Boss’s Ryan and Adam took on the challenge to see if they could work together in a fight for their freedom.
When we first heard there was going to be a co-op game where you would work together with your buddy to escape from prison, we thought it sounded awesome. Putting your trust in your fellow gamer to have your back and pull off a daring departure from the pen. Unfortunately, in reality, things don’t always go how you would like them to.
Since the dawn of gaming time, most games have been competitive. This prolonged challenge has bred a competitive gaming culture where the very best are rewarded so. In-game prizes to the casual gamer like unlockables or loot boxes. Multi-million dollar prize pools for the very best in e-sports.
This scenario has also made gamers lose a lot of trust in one another with a quick team kill ending a well-performing players streak (They would have definitely done it to you too if they had the chance}. So in this environment, it was a brave choice for Hazelight studios to make a game which forces players to work together and takes away all options of trying to go it alone. That’s right. NO SINGLE PLAYER AT ALL!
With many people describing A Way Out more as an interactive film than a game and a reported story play time of less than 6 hours we decided to do a whole play through in one night. You can watch our A Way Out Final Boss Twitch stream recording online now.
We did make it all the way through the game, and we did enjoy it, but we had a few issues (not including our complete failure to work together). Our first was the pacing of the story. For such a short one, it takes an age to get going at any speed. There is a lot of emphasis on really weird points too. These are obviously to flesh out the backstory of the characters, and maybe even the playtime, but that’s not what we’re interested in.
What we want is to break out of prison; which all happens in the first 10% of the game. Quite odd as all the marketing was based entirely around the prison escape. The next 80% is spent bonding and the last 10% is a giant shootout. This was the first time we’d even picked up a gun so had no control over the brand new aiming mechanics and it all felt a bit hodgepodge. Also no run-and-gun! WTF Hazelight?
The next disappointment was the graphics. A Way Out is out for PS4 and Xbox One, each capable of 4K resolution. What we got was a draw distance that reminded us of silent hill and the smoothest textures that made every building look like it was made a lego. And PRE-RENDERED CUTSCENES! We haven’t tactics like these since the PS2 era. Its even more obvious when the cutscene only happens for one character and the other one is able to run around in the background but mysteriously is never in sight. Absolutely horrible when compared to other 3rd person adventure shooters like Uncharted: Lost Legacy which had an amazing cutscene method of just moving the camera around the in-game player models.
Now you might be saying “you can’t compare an AAA title and an indie break out like that, their budgets are nowhere near the same!”. You’ll soon change your mind when you realise how much time, effort, and money Hazelight put into completely pointless mini-games, object interaction, and unnecessary voice-over lines for literally every NPC. You don’t want a conversation with a homeless person with 6 alternative choices? Tough. It’s already in there!
Despite our annoyance at almost everything, we did have a blast playing A Way Out. This was mainly because we were playing with friends; Enjoying couch co-op which is seen so infrequently nowadays since the advent of online play. Often screaming at each other in disbelief after Player One purposely fails the quick time event so that Player Two dies was a classic, repeated move.
Always multiplayer, always co-op is a brave and subversive tactic which gave A Way Out a refreshing take on modern games. Some scenes like the building site or hospital chase were incredible with the play switching between players keeping both in the action together yet having their own limelight. This combined with the sudden changing of the genre from top-down strategy to side-scrolling action with the simple re-positioning of the camera was genius. Sadly these moments were too few and joined together by so much doing nothing, janky controls, and a mediocre story that it made the game lag a lot.