A Way Out released today

A Way Out comes out today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. It is Hazelight Studios’ debut game and the EA Originals program’s third release. The action-adventure game is entirely co-op, as each player controls one of two characters at all times. While this is Hazelight’s first game, Josef Fares directs A Way Out after 2013’s Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The critical response is mostly positive, with many praising its cinematic direction and unique co-op gameplay. Kotaku labelled it a “must-play”, stating “each beat, each moment, was expertly presented and edited tightly.” IGN praised the gameplay variety, scoring it an 8.3/10 as it “feels like what Telltale’s games might’ve evolved into if they’d leaned into game mechanics instead of phasing them out.” However the game is not without its criticisms. Gamespot gave it a 6/10, comparing it to a “geographical tour … that was often trite, gimmicky, or cringeworthy.”

Gameplay

The most important factor that makes A Way Out’s gameplay so unique is the forced co-op play. Gamers must play A Way Out either online or on the couch with another real human. While this is an ambitious and unconventional demand, A Way Out gives everyone who purchased it a token to allow another friend free access to the game. BGR wrote that A Way Out was the “evolution that co-op gaming deserves.” What you actually do in the game is extremely varied. Like any action-adventure game, it is a combination of interactive exploration, puzzle solving and quick-time event based action sequences. While this is seen in games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, these games don’t have the same variety. A quick list of gameplay styles include third-person shooting, vehicular combat, 2D brawling, action-stealth sections and even Connect-Four. The sheer variety of what players will do is a direct result of director Josef Fares.

Connect Four is playable as one of the many Co-Op themed distractions. Source: PlayStation Lifestyle

Story and Direction

Those familiar with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons will know that Josef Fares weaves deep narratives into his gameplay. This is certainly the case with A Way Out. Gamers will play as either Vincent or Leo as they escape prison and survive on the run. As Kotaku says, it is best to go into the story blind as its narrative beats are best experienced organically with a friend. What sets A Way Out apart from Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is its cinematic tone and movie-like direction.

Even in a chase scene, players view each other at all times. Source: BGR

Where Brothers has a fixed camera angle that laid the world and puzzles flat before players, A Way Out utilises a constantly moving camera that cuts like a Hollywood action film. This also has the effect of splitting the screen apart so both players, even when playing online, view each others actions. As a result, Fares is able to experiment with each sequence like a film director would with a scene. Some sequences are direct split screen, while others emphasise one player’s actions over another. This results in sequences that are drastically different and varied from others. Fares told IGN in their sit-down preview, after every sequence they played together the game would never do that same thing again. As a result the game feels like a cinematic narrative experience instead of a typical video game.

Source: Official Gameplay Trailer

A Way Out is available in-stores and digitally through PSN, Xbox Live and Origin.