On the console: A Way Out

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on May 9, 2022 - May 15, 2022.
On the console: A Way Out
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From the studio Hazelight, the creators of award-­winning game It Takes Two, comes A Way Out, a prison break cooperative (co-op) two-player split screen game full of action and vengeance. This game was on our Steam — a video game digital distribution service — wish list for a while after reading promising reviews of the game.

It is cinematically set in a prison and follows two convicts — Leo and Vincent — who are vastly different in character but have the same goal — vengeance. The mandatory two-player game starts off with the pair working together to break themselves out of prison, after which they dodge being caught by the authorities while on the hunt for Harvey, the man who wronged both of them and led them to live a life behind bars.

The studio, headed by filmmaker-turned-game-developer Josef Fares, incorporated interesting and shocking twists along the way. A Way Out’s gameplay may seem like a typical prison-break-and-run-from-authorities story, but my sister and I were surprised with its plot twist, making it one of the best co-op games we’ve played. The game is definitely worth seeing through until the end, although you may feel like you have reached the climax halfway through.

Set in the late-1970s in a post-Vietnam War environment, the game takes both players (and characters) through a series of teamwork problem-solving scenarios. There are instances where a player can decide to choose a specific interaction with other characters, which also leads to different paths in the game.

Sometimes, the screen merges and becomes one cinematic gameplay where either one or both characters are put in the limelight. These moments were quite satisfying as they typically indicated the end of a chapter or section of a gameplay, signifying that we had won that goal, but there were times when it also indicated that the two players would have to coordinate to pass the challenge.

We got acquainted (and minorly sympathetic and attached) to both characters over the course of our eight-hour gameplay. I played Vincent, who is diplomatic and reserved (and the slightly more level-headed of the two) and my sister played Leo, who is a little rough around the edges but a real softie, especially to his family.

Although the pair were on a specific mission to find and kill Harvey, the game also took us on different personal journeys with each of the characters. While there are a lot of action-packed scenes that require the characters to run and hide from the authorities or shoot down the people who are chasing them, the game also allows the characters to do mundane things, such as play basketball, a game of horseshoes and even fishing. The game does a seamless job of blending drama with action and emotion with lightheartedness.

At first, the characters don’t trust each other and question each other’s motives and actions but as time passes, trust between the two builds and they realise that they are stronger together. If they want to get to Harvey, they need each other.

The game is easy to play and navigate, and the controls are rather intuitive after playing for a while, making it accessible to new gamers too. For more seasoned gamers,  the appeal is definitely in the graphics and the story, on top of the co-op gameplay.

As my sister and I frequently played multiplayer co-op games, this was something fun we did together on weekends, but it can definitely act as a relationship building and understanding tool for couples or anyone who needs better communication and teamwork skills.

A Way Out is available to play on PC, Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.