Writing an A Way Out review requires one to overcome some obstacles. First of all, as you may well be fully aware, A Way Out can only be played in co-op. There is no single player mode.
Another obstacle is that A Way Out is unlike any most other games. There are surface similarities to be sure, but overall, this is a very different kind of game.
Requiring A Way Out to be played in co-op is the root of where the game’s differences come from. And it’s here where A Way Out shines. It’s also where most of its issues come from.
A Way Out Review
I played A Way Out with my wife, who never, ever plays video games. I figured that A Way Out would be an easy way to introduce her and I was half right.
Initially, she struggled with the controls. Especially keeping the camera positioned behind her. It was frustrating for me because the story can’t progress without both players moving forward.
I’ll admit, I lost my patience a few times, which isn’t fair. My situation is an extreme example, but the forced co-op can be an impediment. When both players aren’t on the same level or one player is taking a lot longer than the other, A Way Out can’t proceed.
It can cause a lot of frustration when one player is waiting for the other. It becomes an even bigger issue when the dawdling player is invested in speaking to the NPCs and experiencing the story.
By virtue of controlling one character or another, you become invested in your character, but not necessarily the other.
Luckily for A Way Out, the issues stemming from the forced co-op fade away in the face of everything else. The real star of A Way Out isn’t the co-op, it’s the characters, their motivations and the narrative.
Leo and Vincent are two very different people, who come together to achieve a common goal. I don’t want to give anything away because as the story unfolds you’ll find yourself more and more invested.
A Way Out is told via flashback and it delivers the story of Leo and Vincent’s fortuitous meeting, escape from prison and carrying out of their plans. It’s hard to explain without giving much away, but overall, A Way Out is a revenge story.
It’s so much more though. It ebbs and flows like a film and even at it’s lowest points, it manages to be a worthwhile experience. After six-hours, A Way Out feels like it’s about to lose steam. The story feels as though it’s run out of ideas and the bag of tricks is empty.
And then, the final emotional shock comes. After the credits rolled, I was still sitting on the couch, shocked.
If you play A Way Out, make sure you get all the way through it, it’s well worth it.
The Great Escape
For the most part, A Way Out features a lot of walking, talking and watching. You’ll spend a lot of time watching cutscenes and conversations play out. You’ll also spend a lot of time walking around the environments, talking to NPCs and learning about Leo and Vincent’s motivations.
These are the quiet moments in between the co-op sequences that drive the action forward. A Way Out moves in two phases, a slow, exploring section as detailed above and then a fast-paced, action-packed section filled with ‘real’ gameplay.
You’ll find yourself running, jumping, climbing, sneaking and all manner of standard gameplay mechanics. However, the ever-present split-screen, makes things feel more panicked and frantic. It’s not just yourself you need to rely on, you need to make sure your co-op partner succeeds as well.
While I played there was a lot of shouting and encouragement and vocal commiseration when things went wrong.
A Way Out also features a plethora of mini-games for players to tackle together. These mini-games don’t have a bearing on the story or how the game plays out, but they do help to foster a sense of camaraderie between players. They also help to break up the story and action sequences.
A Way Out is a very different experience, wrapped up in one that’s familiar. The forced co-op does cause some issues, but it’s also what separates it and makes it special.
The gameplay loops all rely on exploration, investigation and a huge range of mini-games. These mini-games range from the serious to the silly and help to get players to connect with one another.
Thankfully, A Way Out includes a code for a friend to download the game free, meaning you’ll never be stuck without someone to play. Unless they don’t want to of course, but what kind of friend would take a free game and then not play with you?
They’ll probably play as Leo.
In any case, A Way Out is a game that is well worth the six-hour runtime and well worth playing. It’s an interesting way forward for co-op games and shows how gameplay mechanics can be flipped to create all new experiences.
A Way Out was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided to PowerUp! by EA.
Game Title: A Way Out
Incredible Story - 9/10
Forced co-op can be a drag - 4/10
Lots of wow moments - 8/10
A Way Out is a different experience in almost every regard. Its hook is also often-times a reason to take a break. Forced co-op is certainly an interesting idea and it does have its benefits, but as you’d expect, it does cause some issues for the game overall.
Thankfully, none of these issues is big enough to stop players from enjoying A Way Out. The story, characters and most of the gameplay are solid and engaging enough to keep players invested, in spite of the occasional niggle.
A Way Out shows that games can still have some originality and create genuinely engaging experiences.