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Posted on Apr 30th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Action, Adventure, Hazelight, Story, EA, Cooperative

Back at E3 2017, a trailer for a game known as A Way Out was shown and, while it seemed to get little attention from most others, I was immediately intrigued.  Its promise of a cooperative experience like no other coupled with a premise that showed two inmates working together to escape from prison seemed like a match made in Heaven for myself and the friend that I later played the game with.  The trailer invoked shades of The Shawshank Redemption, a favorite of ours, and the idea of being able to play through a similar scenario together was too exciting to ignore.  With the game being released just recently, we were finally able to experience this adventure together, and we were not disappointed.

A Way Out is a story-driven cooperative action/adventure game that can only be played with two people.  Released on March 23, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, A Way Out was developed by Hazelight Studios and directed by Josef Fares who had originally directed Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.  Published by Electronic Arts, A Way Out was funded through the EA Originals program through which EA dedicates funding toward small independent games.  A Way Out has received generally positive reception and is considered a financial success, selling over a million copies in a span of two weeks.

The early parts of the game draw a lot of inspiration from The Shawshank Redemption.

The story begins with one of the game's protagonists, Vincent Morreti, being sent to prison for embezzlement.  There he meets the game's other protagonist, Leo Caruso, who had been arrested six months prior for grand theft.  After Vincent helps Leo fend off a group of attackers, they learn that they have a mutual enemy in Harvey, the crime boss who is responsible for them both ending up in prison, so they hatch a plan to escape and hunt him down.

The game's story feels reminiscent of similar stories seen in other media and doesn't do much to differentiate itself from the rest.  As such, the story will seem very predictable, and most players will see the plot twist at the end coming from a mile away.  There are choices that can be made along the way, and while a couple may let you take a slightly different path for a short while, most of these have little to no impact on the game or its story.  Overall, I enjoyed the story for its charm as coming across as a cheesy action flick, but don't expect anything particularly thought-provoking here.

Unfortunately, "Vincent's way" and "Leo's way" usually lead to the same outcome.

Gameplay largely consists of the kind of activities you would expect to find in a third-person action game.  While the game is linear and the environments usually aren't particularly large, there is an emphasis on exploration, as many people, objectives, and other random things to interact with are scattered about.  There are a few driving sequences in the game, but these are usually chase or escape sequences, so free-roaming with vehicles isn't allowed.  There are also a few times where shootouts will occur, especially towards the end of the game.  Most of these core gameplay mechanics feel fairly mediocre, and, while they get the job done, it is clear that these were not the main focus of the game.

Where the game really shines are the odd cooperative interactions that are littered throughout the game.  Some of my favorite moments include working together (or against each other if I felt like trolling my partner) to steer a rowboat through treacherous waters, goofing off in an elderly couple's farmhouse, and exploring (and causing mischief) in a trailer park.  Many of the main objectives will require both players to do their part in order to proceed, such as finding ways to get around guards in the prison.  There are a ton of different cooperative actions in the game, some important to the game's progression and others just as optional diversions, but we had a ton of fun with these, and there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments throughout.

Who cares that an angry man with a shotgun will be home any minute?  Let's bust out some tunes!

A Way Out is a fairly good looking game considering the small development team.  Character models and environments look good, although they can appear a little plain at times.  The visuals aren't of the same caliber of many of the AAA games releasing today, but they are a step above most other indie games.  As far as audio goes, there isn't a ton of music in the game, and aside from a couple of tracks that were effective in their respective scenes, none of it stood out to me as being particularly good or bad.  The voice acting is decent, but not on the same level as many other games releasing these days.

My friend and I have played through a ton of games together cooperatively, and I feel confident in saying that A Way Out is one that we will remember and look back on fondly for quite some time.  While valid criticisms can be levied against the mediocre gameplay mechanics and the fairly trite storyline, all of these aspects are serviceable and provide a vehicle for the great co-op experience that is contained within.  A Way Out was released at a budget price of $30 MSRP, and only one copy is needed for two people to play either online or locally.  If you can find a good buddy to co-op it with, A Way Out is a game that I can easily recommend.

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Definitely a game that sparked my interest when I saw the trailer. Good to know it is a budget title. Great review, I'm sold!
This one has totally slipped under the radar, as I haven't heard of it. Sounds like it could be interesting, though, and one that I might have to look into as a unique couch coop experience. Thanks for the review!

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