A Way Out: Fun or Disappointing?

So I recently purchased the new game “A Way Out” by the creator of “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons”. The quick run down is that it’s an indie game that’s part of the EA Originals project (in which the creator said that EA isn’t making any money off of it, he and his team get all the profits [aside from what PlayStation makes]). It’ll take you about 6-7 hours to complete, it’s $39.99 CDN (so probably $29.99 in the US) and there are no microtransactions of any kind. It’s also a co-op only game (you can’t play solo), but only one person needs to own it (more on that later). So with that in mind, what did I think of the game? (Also, I’ll be keeping spoilers to a minimum, but there will be some minor non-story spoilers.)

My initial reaction was a bit of disappointment. When the creator first started talking about it at one of the E3 conferences, I thought it was going to be more or less like a co-op prison simulator game where the whole goal of the game was to attempt to break out of prison. Like a co-op version of “The Escapists”. I thought that there were going to be lots of different ways of breaking out of prison, chances of getting caught, maybe being thrown into solitary confinement. I thought you’d be able to pick fights with people or try to toe the line. With some extra things to do afterwards if you and your friend did manage to break out of prison. But alas, that is not the case.

The creator also said that your friend could be in a cutscene and you’ll be able to see the other person walking in the background of that cutscene but there was at least one instance where we proved that wasn’t true. But that’s more of a nitpick than anything else.

So breaking out of prison is just the beginning of the game, and there really is only one method of doing so. The game is very linear in that regard. There are no penalties for getting caught as far as I can tell, you just restart at the last checkpoint. Though that could be wrong, my friend and I didn’t get caught, I’m just speculating based on messing up at other moments later on in the game. And the fear of getting caught led us to some intense and really fun moments early on in the game.

And that’s a key factor, the fun. Despite the initial disappointment, once you’re out of prison there is a lot to see and do and a lot of fun to be had. This game has a bunch of different minigames, and many different story-based activities that all work very well and are all fun. My biggest gripe with the game is that I wish there was even more to it. Like I said before, it’s a very linear game that only takes, at most, 7 hours to complete, and not a lot of replayability. But let’s talk about some of those fun moments first.

One of the most fun moments was when my friend and I were rowing a boat down some rapids, trying desperately to not crash into rocks and destroy the boat. We’re rowing and screaming and yelling at each other, “Go right! Go right! No that’s too much! Left! Left!” At one point the boat turned completely around and so now the boat’s going backwards over some slight waterfalls and we’re screaming and rapidly tapping the square button, trying to turn the boat back around. Of course, through all the screaming we’re also laughing because we’re having a great time.

Some of the minigames were really good too. Whether we were playing music together, or trying to best each other’s scores in horseshoes or darts, or playing an arcade game or Connect Four (in which my friend is a cheater, somehow winning every match). There was definitely a lot to do to take your mind off of the fact that you’re both fugitives and should be trying to get far away. But no matter how many minigames and activities there were, I really wish there was more. A game of pool would have been a lot of fun or checkers or chess (yeah, I have a weird idea of what “fun” is). The point I’m trying to make is that everything in the game is so well done, that it makes me want more.

So let’s talk about the friendpass for a moment, one of the best ideas that I’ve ever seen done for a co-op game. Since this game can’t be played solo, you have to have a friend playing with you, they’ve incorporated something called a friendpass that allows a second player to join you without having to purchase the game. So you can play the game locally with someone sitting next to you, or online, by having the friend download a full demo of the game and then joining the game via your invite online. It’s also important to note that regardless of locally or online, the game is splitscreen, so you can always see what your friend is up to which worked surprisingly well and was rather enjoyable. The friendpass was definitely a nice touch.

Another really cool aspect of the game is that the two characters actually feel distinct from each other, they each have their own personality and how they interact with their environment really showcases this. One of the characters is 43 and one is 36, there’s a scene that takes place on a farm and you can interact with chickens, the 43 year old just pets the chickens, but the 36 year old will pick up the chickens and throw them in the air and watch them flutter down. There’s another example of this when you’re in someone’s kitchen and you eat cookies and drink from their fridge. The 36 year old just munches down the cookies and doesn’t think about the drink in the fridge (just drinks it), but the 43 year old makes a comment about how the cookies look freshly made and really seems to savour it, but then takes a beer out of the fridge and smells it, refusing to drink it because it smells old and stale. It’s these small touches that really shows their different personalities. You can both interact with a lot of the same stuff, but sometimes the animations are different and their comments are different. It was really fun seeing how we both interacted with our surroundings.

But now let’s go back to the replayability of the game. There are two different endings, but how you get there will always end up the same. There are a few moments where both characters come up with a plan on how to proceed and you and your friend have to decide which plan to go with, but it doesn’t change much. Sometimes it’s as simple as who’s going to hold the gun or who’s going to confront someone, maybe the cutscene and some of the actions will be a little different, but it’ll get you to the same spot in the end regardless of whose plan you choose. I really wish there was more replayability, like I wish there were different ways of breaking out of the prison, I wish there were different paths you can take and maybe like 4 or 5 different endings. It would be neat if certain actions had you skip over some scenes and put you at a different location compared to doing something else, but I can’t complain too much. I did have a lot of fun with it, and I do have another friend that really wants to play it and I’d be more than happy to jump back in and start playing it with him, maybe I’ll get to see the second ending (I’ve only seen one of the endings).

Overall, this game was a real joy to play. My friend and I had a blast discovering all of the things we could do in it and all of the different story-based activities we had to do. The game was definitely a lot of fun, and I found it to be worth the money, even if in the end I still felt like there was more that should’ve been added to it. If there was more replay value and if the story was a bit longer, I would give the game a higher score, but as it stands I will give the game a score of:

7.5/10

It’s definitely worth your time checking out, but how you feel about the game will be dependent on who you play it with.

Thanks for taking the time to check out and read my review. If you liked the review please feel free to share it, comment below what you think of the game – if you agree with me or not – I’d like to hear your opinion, and click on the like button and subscribe to my blog. I know it’s been a while since I wrote a post, but I’d like to start writing more again and your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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