EA doesn’t currently have a reasonable level of gamers and for a good reason. But this company supported the small developer studio Hazelight, which wants to conquer the world with A Way Out. We accompanied Leo and Vincent on their journey and tried to tell you if the purchase of the game is worthwhile.

TitleA Way Out
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
PublisherElectronic Arts
DeveloperHazelight Studios
GenreAction-adventure
ReleaseMarch 23, 2018
ModeMultiplayer
ESRB-rating-Mature-17+MATURE - Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Gameplay

You wake up bathed in sweat. The dream is even more real than real life. Slowly the pictures fade again, and at the end, the memory and the suffocating feeling remains in the throat. Slowly reality begins to take root back, and you realize that you are where you never wanted to be. A small room, with a table on the right and a little couch on the left. At the back of the room is the toilet and during the whole time, you hear the whispering and talk of the other people. The everyday life of the prison has you back in a tight grip.

You remember as it was the first time you entered the prison walls under surveillance. There was something surreal about the bus ride. It didn’t seem real and tangible. Only when the hard water jet hits you with ice-cold water and feels every pore of the body threatening to burst you realize that it is genuine. But you still have your goal in mind: get out of here, because Harvey can’t escape – it’s time to plan your escape.

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Pros

Games in which we can go on a journey together are no longer a novelty. Developer Hazelight goes the extreme way. You can play A Way Out only in pairs.

There is no such thing as going it alone, Leo and Vincent, the heroes of the game, do everything together to achieve their goal. From the prison breakout to the hunt for Harvey – their goal remains the same, but their means to accomplish the same could not be more different.

Hazelight not only brings a Coop title to the market but has built it around two opposing characters. Leo, better to act than to think long and hard. The first hit, then asks or, if necessary, shoot first and then confront. Vincent’s a different kind of knit. Violence does not have to be the means to an end. Talk your way out of situations. What connects the two, however, is the fact that they are prepared to take extreme measures should things get ticklish.

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A Way Out has bright ideas of what it wants to be and does not deviate from them. If you think you can abandon your partner, you will soon realize that it doesn’t work. Whether robber ladder on a wall, clearing obstacles out of the way or defying the dangers together, whether on foot or behind the steering wheel of a vehicle.

You have to make arrangements to open doors, for example, or to decide how to proceed. We quickly identified with our characters. Analyse the situation or with your head through the wall? Hazelight succeeds to tie us up in it – in pairs.

Also, A Way Out is a little love letter to the gamers themselves. Sure, the fights are quick time events and not particularly challenging to master, even if you want to aim for it. But in the overall package, A Way Out is a beautiful mix of different gameplay elements. There is not much shooting, but all the more intense, there are chases and even 2D elements in the style of a Street of Rage. At no time, whether together on the sofa or via online connection, there is the feeling that a section is too stretched.

It is often the case that the section could have walked a little longer because it was very intensive. Whether it was a leisurely trip on a river or a walk through the forest – we wanted more.

What Hazelight does without is backtracking. A prison breakout is tricky and requires improvisation and the necessary preparation. Leo and Vincent often only realize what they lack for the escape when they arrive at an obstacle. Like in a movie, A Way Out changes the scene and tells you exactly what the two crooks are planning to do to get ahead.

All this happens in split-screen mode, whether local or online – you can not only see your partner’s actions but also hear them. Of course, it often happens that your eyes wander away from your play, but this is more than once necessary to coordinate or to master a situation.

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A Way Out is a feast for the eyes. The Unreal Engine used by Hazelight shows how beautiful it can be. Leo and Vincent are incredibly detailed animated and show a sincere facial expression, just like almost all the other characters you will meet in the game. Above all, however, they are credible characters, whether Leo and Vincent themselves or the many people we meet on our journey. None of them seem unnaturally exaggerated and laughable. Together with the cinematic camera work and graphics, A Way Out is fun even when you can only watch your partner.

The incredible sound underlines the already excellent atmosphere. Both heroes have a great speaker, who does his job only in English, but all the more credible. Also, the musical background is excellent and is looking for its master in this price range so far.

Although A Way Out is cheap, you can play it more than once. Not only to get to know one of the two fates in more detail at the end but because there are many situations in the game in which both players have to decide on a path. Parachute jump or the way through the jungle? The other way you can approach only in the next game run.

Cons

A Way Out is an incredibly good game, but not free of flaws. It is quite short with about six to eight hours and offers only the possibility of one or two game runs. After that, not much will change, even if there are still small hints and opportunities to find along the way.

Typically for the Unreal Engine, there are often small texture packages that can pop up during a scene. But it does very little “damage” to the game in overall. Less subtle is the control of the vehicles that you have to steer during the game. Whether car or motorcycle, the steering is not exactly precise or reacts as planned. Besides, the sections in which it is crucial are quite short, and therefore there is no time for a learning curve.

But one of the biggest criticisms is that A Way Out really can’t be started alone. It would be nice if the other part could be taken over by an AI. So every gamer is always dependent on a friend to bring time. You can’t look for a random online player either – but this is more advantageous than negative ones.

Conclusion

For $29.99 Hazelight offers you an incredibly well-staged game. It is comparable to Telltale titles and yet much more interactive. However, the story is no less gripping but drags you along until the end. Emotions and a conclusion that nobody expected, shows how much heart and soul went into A Way Out. Smaller problems with the control of the vehicles and the game length are almost secondary. A Way Out gets a buy recommendation from us.