A Way Out is a co-op game from Hazelight Studios in which two players must band together to find a way out of prison and get revenge on a jewel thief, Harvey. With local and online co-op support, you and a friend determine your own destiny. Do you want to act how Leo, the hot-headed and impulsive character would? Or do you want to be more methodical and talk your way through things, like Vincent?
Choosing to do things Leo or Vincent’s way is one of the most fascinating aspects of the game, because what you choose affects the outcome. You may end with the same result, but there are different ways of getting there. However, there are multiple endings that depend on the choices you make. Choose wisely, because if you don’t, you could regret it.
The game sets up a story of two unlikely friends with the same mission: escape prison and get revenge. The story is nothing short of amazing, with twists and turns that you never see coming. I’ll stop here because I don’t want to spoil anything, but there comes a point in the game where you begin to wonder, “When will this end?” I didn’t necessarily want to put my controller down and play something else, I just wanted to get on with things. Despite this feeling, I implore you to keep on going and finish the game, you will not regret it.
Going in, I was a little skeptical of the couch co-op aspect and was wishing I could just play it by myself. It can be difficult to find a time where two people are both available and ready to play, especially if it takes more than a couple hours to play through the game. After finishing the game, however, I am so grateful to have experienced it with a friend. With only 5-6 hours of gameplay, it doesn’t take very long to get through and can be done in two or three sittings. The story along with the teamwork makes for a great co-op experience that you and your friend will not soon forget!
A lot of the game is spent watching cutscenes, so grab your popcorn and kick your feet up. While this may sound boring to you, they’re actually quite interesting. They keep you intrigued as you learn more about Leo and Vincent’s past, what is driving them, and how they like to do things. You won’t want to take your eyes off of them. Despite the massive number of scenes, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to play. Often times, right as one of the scenes ends, you will be thrown into a car chase or a shoot-out, so keep your controller nearby and be ready to go!
The graphics are quite good, in both the scenes and in actual gameplay. They’re at their best in the cutscenes and make you feel like you are watching a real movie. They can be a bit grainy in the gameplay at times, but overall they’re pretty good. They’re at their worst when you’re doing some type of high-speed thing, such as a vehicle chase, but since you’re moving so fast and being chased, there isn’t too much need for an exorbitant amount of detail anyway.
The game mechanics, for the most part, are simple, smooth, and easy to get the hang of. There are a lot of button mashing and timed presses throughout the game that Vincent and Leo must complete together. One of my favorite missions is when you have to scale a wall back to back. This requires you and your partner to stop the moving bead in the correct zone in order to advance. If you time it right, you will advance, but if not, you just may fall to your death!
There are few glitches in the game, which is surprising considering the split-screen style. There is one scene in the hospital when Vincent is still doing his part, and a scene begins to push his side off and go full screen, which cut off the last part of the mission. However, this is very minor and one of the few glitches I experienced. There are also a few minor graphical glitches, but nothing worth complaining about.
The music made me feel like I was in an old western movie, which was great. There was fast-paced music for fast-paced scenes and slow-paced music for slow-paced scenes, all which fit within the style of the game. It’s so much more enjoyable to play a game with solid background music that helps you get into the gameplay and immersed in the story, and A Way Out nailed it.
The biggest issue I have with the story is believability. Some of the things they do and stunts they pull off are simply not possible. I know that it is a video game and it’s supposed to be outrageous at times, but some of the things that happen are just a little much. While I might buy some of these scenes if they had matched the rest of the game, they stuck out like a sore thumb among the relative realism of other scenes. Instead of saying “Wow! That was really cool!”, I was left thinking “There is no way that would ever happen.”
The game also has a lot of optional, fun, mini games like arm wrestling, darts, basketball, and more. This helps add a light-hearted vibe and makes the experience better. Leo and Vincent may be running from the cops, but they still have time to face each other in a heated arm wrestling contest or a quick game of horseshoes.
One of the most redeeming qualities of the game is the character bonding. Vincent and Leo start the game off as strangers, and as the game progress, their relationship becomes stronger. Their bond towards the end of the game is incredibly powerful and you really feel like the characters know and trust each other. They become best friends throughout the game, and never lose their individual sense of humor, being able to crack a joke, even in the tensest moments.
This is definitely a game that I would consider playing through again with a new partner. Instead of being Vincent, I would try the game as Leo and do things from his perspective, changing the storyline of the game and my results. It definitely has replay value and is a great game to use to introduce a friend to the co-op genre.
Overall, A Way Out is a fantastic co-op experience that will truly leave you speechless. It’s intense cut scenes and character development makes it a joy to play. The minor graphical issues and believability are overshadowed by the fantastic storyline and smooth game mechanics. By the end of the game, you may be full of tears or full of adrenaline. Choose wisely, because your life depends on it.
This review of A Way Out is based on the Xbox One version of the game.
Andrew is a college student who loves to keep up with the gaming industry. His favorite character of all time is Mario. You can find him on Twitter @_andrewtsmith.