Available on Xbox One (tested version), PS4 and PC
A Way Out does some really amazing things with the design of cooperative games. Taking the game in split screen and injecting new ideas, a wonderful cinematographic camera work and creating something that is really built with two players in mind, is incredibly intuitive. Unfortunately, an unconvincing narrative, poor voice acting and inconsistent visual effects do not live up to these fundamentals. The mechanical concepts of A Way Out will live much longer in memory than their artistic choices.
A Way Out tells the story of Leo and Vincent, two men who meet in unfortunate circumstances in prison. They are connected by a shared vendetta against the same criminal brain. The plot follows his escape from the prison of Tango and Cash-style and the pursuit of later revenge.
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Leo is the brain of Vincent's brains. In terms of playability, this has little impact outside of a rain of crossing options, where problems can be solved through Vincent's more conservative approach or Leo's aggressive approach. Unfortunately, these traits never offer much depth to the characters, nor does the cast of support.
This is not helped by the voice acting that flits between cheesy and horrible. There were so many moments of cringey dialogue, or a line so poorly delivered that it eliminated all gravitation from the scene.
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While A Way Out has a nice overall aesthetic, By offering a color palette that matches your 70s settings, facial details are missing , so it is difficult to connect with these already vocally disabled characters. This incoherence means the connection that Hazelight so desperately wants us to feel we rarely reach.
Combine this with a confidence in certain tropes: the pregnant wife waiting outside, the cliché plot and cheesy phrases, to name but a few – and a horrible soundtrack that simply does not align with the events on the screen, the story it just does not have the desired weight.
With all that said, you would think that A Way Out is a bad game, but it is not In fact, it is very nice because it is very well designed for two players, and that shared experience is a central part of its appeal.
While other cooperative titles often provide the same experience for both parties, this is different from everything I ever played. Leo and Vincent will leave and have a completely separate experience. They will complete separate objectives while coordinating their efforts in a way that had not been seen before in a game. This is largely thanks to the wonderful kinematics.
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Walking through the prison courtyard on split screen, both will participate in conversations that are completely separate from each other. He will learn about other inmates, or he will simply take part in domestic chores, before a fight breaks out and fate will unite them both in the same action. This leads to large QTE sequences.
There are also some magnificent chase sequences, where you'll split up to catch someone or run away from the police, it's excellent. The way the camera is kept with two separate players and what they do, dividing the screen before joining them when Leo and Vincent meet in the same room is so wonderful that there were times when I just lay back and admired the achievement.  At certain moments in the game, the actions of one character will be more important than the other, and therefore, both should pay attention, for example, to Vincent. Hazelight draws attention to this by subtly moving the left or right division, making one character's screen larger than the other. For example, when the guards are doing a shakedown of Vincent's cell, Leo's screen becomes smaller as the camera zooms in on the guards in Vincent's room. This ensures that both players pay maximum attention to the events that take place there.
At other times, a character's screen will vanish completely for a cut scene centered on a character. It's done so discreetly that it's never jarring, and this is the shining star of A Way Out. The actual design and implementation of their cooperative mechanics have never before been seen in the games, and I hope that this is something that is repeated in the games in the future. The camera work is excellent and takes a lot of the movies, but in a way that sparkles brilliantly with the way the game plays.
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However, there are a couple of drawbacks. When Leo and Vincent explore an environment in which there are people to talk to, there is no smart way to decide which conversation goes first. The result is that you will have two chats lit at once, one significantly louder than the other. You will simply have to read the subtitles of whatever side you are playing and try to block the incomprehensible noise during those moments.
There is also a small objection about exploration and puzzle sequences. Sometimes Vincent and Leo will have to overcome a problem to move on to the next sequence: stealing a monkey wrench from the workshop and taking it back to their cell, for example. The problem is that there is no real creative problem solving to complete these tasks. There was no urgent need to communicate among players to know what to do; It was obvious and linear, with only one solution for each problem. It became a case of & # 39; monkey see, monkey do & # 39;
Then, once you understood the solution to the problem, often in a few seconds, the sequences lasted too long and became tedious. When leaving the cell, for example, a player is required to watch the guards while the other works in his cell. The sequence involves a series of controller minigames, and each one lasts too long and becomes tedious, especially when both Leo and Vincent need to complete the same task in order to escape.
Comfort will also be a problem for some players. While A Way Out does brilliant things with the cooperative, and Hazelight is generous enough to allow two people to experience the game with only one player who has purchased it, you should keep in mind that if you invite a friend to use Friend Pass , you must first download the free trial version of the game. Therefore, if you plan to play with someone, you will have to reserve at some point to download it first.
Then there's the fact that this game can only be played on a player. cooperative of players. There is no AI partner if you want to tackle it alone. Finding the free time for you and someone else to sit and spend several hours with the game, in my experience as a father of a small child and friends with jobs and lives to live, turned out to be very complicated.
Also, I found The best thing is to enjoy the whole experience with the same player. My initial plan was to play with different players to get their opinions, but after starting with a friend at work, I realized that he wanted us to see everything together. The connection not only establishes Leo and Vincent's trip, but also the journey of the two players enjoying and watching A Way Out together.
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Coordinating his escape, panting in a moment of shock, laughing at the disgusting dialogue – this built a relationship that, if I start playing with someone new, will be lost . All this serves to reinforce how well developed the A Way Out cooperative is. While in other multiplayer experiences I can easily jump between matches with strangers, this feels like a game in which you can sit with a friend and enjoy together.
A Way Out has some fantastic ideas that offers a unique cooperative experience. It is certainly worth your time, if you and a friend have time to commit to the eight hours or more of the game.
Mechanically, this is a very rewarding experience that deserves much praise. There are some minor subtleties about some of their mechanics, but these are kept in the shadow of their achievements.
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Unfortunately, the same can not be said of his narrative, which is poor and is accompanied by a sterile voice acting by one-dimensional characters. It's the funniest serial movie you'll play this year.