Joseph Fares, the mind behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, has released his new game under his studio Hazelight Studios. A Way Out was revealed at E3 and took the gaming community by storm. This innovative surprise seemed promising primarily because of the previous game that Joseph worked on.
A Way Out is a coop adventure game that tells a compelling story about two characters, Vincent and Leo. The entire game is coop online and offline, and the central game mechanic is that it is continuously split-screen. The story cuts back and forth between where the characters are in the present and a cutscene that takes place towards the final act of the game. Leo and Vincent bond over a common enemy, Harvey, and break out of prison to hunt him down.
The story and character development are reasonably quickly. This is a short game that has a run time of about five to eight hours. For me, it took about an hour and a half to escape the prison. Most of the game focuses on the adventure to find Harvey. The adventure between these characters is unique and enjoyable but can be predictable at moments. Both Leo and Vincent are well written and acted, same with the side characters they meet on their way through this adventure. Despite the game being short, it takes its time to focus on the characters. Leo and Vincent are some of the most memorable characters in a video game that I have played in a long time. Their dynamic feels organic, and the way their relationship develops is quite believable. The end is solid and satisfying with two different endings that can occur.
The split-screen mechanic seemed like a gimmick at first, but it works wonderfully. Instead of feeling gimmicky, it feels innovative and seamless. The screen is even for both players but will learn towards another character if their cut scene or actions are more important. On occasion, the screen will fill to make one player watch their friend depending on the importance of the moment. Each player gets their own objectives to complete independently and dependently in different situations. This dynamic is excellent and provides for an enjoyable cooperative experience, especially when playing with a close friend.
Gameplay has a wide variety. While on this adventure you will catch fish, drive cars, shoot enemies, sneak around, find ways to escape a situation, and so much more. There are a ton of mechanics that come into play throughout this short experience. However, not all of them work. Driving feels clunky, shooting feels flat, and many other activities feel like you are playing a rather old game. For the most part, the gameplay feels out of date. When it works, there is a lot of options to interact with people and objects. Games such as baseball and connect four are a joy to play with your friend. Interacting with characters gives you some dialog choices. Dialog options are meant to distract other characters, give you an idea about what options you have in a situation, or just to have a quick chat with one of the various characters you come across. Most of the dialog options are mundane but make the world around you feel more alive. Only a fraction of the chosen dialog is practical while most of it is useless information.
The main choices about actions to drive the story are lacking. I wish there were more power given to the player in a meaningful way. Only a few of these actions were memorable. I understand the game has a definitive story to tell, but some of the game feels too linear.
Once or twice the game would run poorly. Lag issues from either my end or my friend’s end can occur. So, it may be best to play locally or be sure both players have a good connection. Load screens are either incredibly short or painfully long. Some glitches occurred, but nothing too serious.
Overall, A Way Out is beautiful but has some somewhat inconsistent moments. At times I can stare at the landscape forever, but get distracted by some ugly textures. Plus animations are inconsistent too. I had moments of needing to break through a door, but my friend and I end up phasing through the door. Also, during a driving section, my friend drove through a car like it was a ghost.
Significant issues do plague A Way Out, but its short timing, innovative gameplay, excellently written, and a blast to play with a friend holds it up. The issues are relatively small, but those problems do stack up. I wish the gameplay was tighter and felt better for all or most situations throughout the game. Animations for characters and graphics are solid but can be inconsistent. That is A Way Out in a nutshell, innovative, but inconsistent. I highly recommend this game because of its $30 price point makes it not too much of an investment. Plus if a friend owns the game, you can play in its entirety. You have nothing to lose and will gain a great experience.
Images via Hazelight Studios and EA
A Way Out is out now and is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
All money when purchasing goes to the devs, not a penny to EA. Buy the game here: