Video game builds tension, friendships

“A Way Out” is a strange game which stands totally without peer, for better and for worse. It’s a third-person adventure game which, at first glance, is very simple—you do not do much aside from basic puzzle solving, quick-time events and some rare rudimentary third-person shooting. The main hook, though, is that the game is entirely co-op; there’s no way to play the game on your own, so you need to find a friend to play it with you.

The game focuses on the personal story of two convicts, Vincent and Leo, who enact a plan to get out of jail and hunt down the person who wronged them. “A Way Out” allows one disk to let two people play together online, without requiring two purchases of the game to do so.  Each player controls one convict and works together. The game even forces split-screen at all times, making it a fundamentally cooperative experience.

It’s this kind of cooperation which makes the game stand out. The puzzles and gameplay are straightforward, and nothing will really challenge you as a player. Still, solving a rudimentary puzzle is more engaging when your friend is shouting because he’s about to get spotted; that is, unless you help.

It is tension-breaking hilarity when your screen is showing a tender moment between Leo and his son, while your partner is spinning in circles and playing darts. “A Way Out” doesn’t offer anything extraordinary except for a stage on which to mess around with a good buddy. That’s what makes it shine.

The story the game tells is the perfect balance of simple and complicated, while still allowing for nonsense. Leo and Vincent are both interesting characters, but not so complex that you need to pay close attention at all times. The story takes some unexpected leaps, but it is a straightforward prison break and revenge tale that does not require in-depth analysis. The narrative exists just enough to make you want to keep playing, but it’s not so overwhelming that you try to shush your partner to hear important dialogue.

On its own merit, “A Way Out” is a perfectly serviceable, simple, story-driven adventure game about two convicts. This aspect can change completely based on who you play it with, and the game offers everything from friendly horseshoe games to cooperative decision-making which force you and your partner to act in interesting ways. This might not interest some players who want a deeper story or a more mechanical game.

The story, characters and gameplay do enough to keep you from getting bored, but don’t do so much that they distract from the real fun: you and your partner will both scream and laugh because you’ve caught four fish and he still hasn’t caught any.


Game: “A Way Out”

Developed by: Hazelight Studios

Systems: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars