STAFF REVIEW of A Way Out (Xbox One)

Monday, April 16, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

A Way Out Box art Brought to you by the director of the beloved game Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, Josef Fares' newest creation, a game called A Way Out, is a unique title that takes co-op to a whole new level. Given that A Way Out is a completely forced co-op game that shows two sides to a very engrossing story, we figured that this review should also have two separate perspectives as well to be within the same essence of the game’s experience, showcasing two point of views based on the same game experience. So welcome my fellow writer, Adam, to this cooperative review of A Way Out.

A Way Out tells the arduous and intertwined story of Leo and Vincent, two cons who meet in prison and plan on breaking out, for their own reasons. To do so though, they’re going to have to work together and trust one another completely. Leo is your typical hot headed criminal who wants to solve his problems with quick and dirty violence. He’s not one to trust people and will get his hands dirty if need be. Vincent on the other hand is a thinker with a clear head, not wanting to hurt people if he doesn’t have to.

These two protagonists are completely different people that come from different walks of life, but they will need to trust one another to break out of prison. Their personality clashes make for some exciting exchanges, and when you need to decide who’s way of getting out of a situation is the best, since both players have to agree, you tend to want to side with your character, regardless if they are like your actual personality or not.

Adam: Yes, this exactly what I thought. I played as Leo, whose personality is nothing like mine at all, yet found myself wanting to side with him and make his decisions, even if they were brash and violent and not what I would want to do in real life should I be in those in-game situations.

Kirsten: I played Vincent and my personality is pretty similar to his. I'm the non-violent, somewhat logical one. I feel like playing Vincent, I kept strong to his personality and mine, I tried to not lose my cool or become violent. I like talking my way through things and coming to a solution that way in real life.

As mentioned above that A Way Out is a forced cooperative game, and by forced, we mean that there’s no possible way to play in a single player mode, even with an A.I. partner. This is a 100% co-op dependent game, though you can play online with friends or split-screen on the couch. What’s missing though is a matchmaking system, so you need to know someone to come over or to play online with from your friends list if you want to play.

Adam: Yea, the lack of matchmaking seemed odd, though it makes sense, as you’re going to want to be in constant communication, and being paired with a random player without a microphone wouldn’t be the best experience for such a co-op heavy game.

Kirsten: I have to agree with you Adam, I can understand why maybe matchmaking isn't the right fit for this game. What you have to take into account is that random person you are going to play the entire game through, or god forbid, they decide half way through because they don't like it and leave you hanging wondering what happens next. I personally would prefer playing it with a friend that I knew.

What makes A Way Out’s co-op truly unique though is that it’s the first game (that I know of) to include a Friendpass. Since it needs to be played in co-op, and with friends only, is makes no sense to have both players purchase the game since they are unable to play alone anyways. If you purchase A Way Out, you can have any of your friends invited to your game, which will prompt them to download the “free trial” and play from start to finish with you.

Adam: I hope this is the start of more games that include a Friendpass, as it’s a fantastic idea for games like this that require 2 players. I can’t even imagine the backdoor logistics that allowed this to get approved, but I really hope it stays around for other games as well.

Kirsten: To add to that, I also want to point out that it sucks to say, but some folks may not have the means to afford a game like this. Agreed, A Way Out is a fantastic price at $39.99, but I always like to think of those who may not have the opportunity. Friendpass is an excellent way to share with your friends.

While we don’t want to spoil the narrative, as it’s the crowning jewel of the game, with twists and turns abound, what we really loved was the cinematic feel it had. Because the game is played in split screen, even online, it’s done in a stylish way with multiple angles being shown, much like an Oceans 11 movie. The split-screen itself isn’t the standard 50/50 view either, as the focused window will enlarge, or shrink, based on who’s doing an important part. This cinematic style adds to the drama and excitement and adds an awesome touch to the storytelling.

Adam: Yea, the style that they had for both the gameplay and cinematics play out in a manner that it is similar to watching a Hollywood movie at certain points. The camerawork was intense and adds to the action, or makes the melodramatic moments have more weight to the emotions.

Kirsten: The cut-scenes are by far one of my favorites. They give the story so much meaning and feeling that makes the player feel connected to the current situation.

A Way Out is all about how its setpieces play out. One minute your trying to smuggle your partner into the laundry room, the next you’re back to back trying to scale a ventilation shaft. Be it on the run, in shootouts, or other crazy situations, these moments that play out are really exciting and add a ton of action.

Have you ever wondered what its like to be an inmate in prison? Have you ever wondered what happens inside its walls? Leo and Vincent will take you through two different points of views, both of which are intriguing for completely different reasons. Both stories are just as action packed, intense and dramatic as the other. You spend time in a cell, you eat in the chow hall, get into fights and sneak around to get what you need to break free, once and for all.

Adam: These setpieces remind me a lot of what you would come to expect from an Uncharted for example. A few of these are very memorable and after completing a few of them, we both looked at each other and mentioned how intense it was.

Kirsten: I loved the intensity. I loved the scenes and how well we reacted to them. It made me feel so connected to the content and the characters.

What surprised both of us the most was its $39.99 (CAD) asking price. Factor in only one person needs to purchase it to allow one to play via a Friendpass with others, and you’ve got a great value for an entertaining cooperative game. It really is a gaming experience that you shouldn't miss out on with one of your friends.

Adam: I quite enjoyed A Way Out, save for the shoddy shooting mechanics. While some might scoff at QTE's for much interaction, it felt fitting here. Vincent and Leo couldn't be more different, but seeing their relationship go through stages throughout the course of the game was the highlight for me, leaving me shocked by the time the credits rolled. The pricepoint is perfect for the experience given and I'm glad to have enjoyed playing through it with a friend.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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