Wednesday 17 October 2018

A Way Out review: Jailbreak attempt is easy escapism

A Way Out (PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+

A Way Out
A Way Out
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Not for the first time, we are urged to invest in a dislikeable lead, except this time on the double. Leo Caruso is quite the asshole, an arrogant thief who is newly jailed. His new pal, convicted murderer Vincent Moretti, rates as only marginally more agreeable.

A Way Out asks the impossible: to sympathise with a pair of crooks as they attempt to escape prison. That it succeeds in part testifies to the creators' skill in sketching the desperation of the two men and the teamwork required to pull off the jailbreak.

The studio has form - the fairytale-esque debut outing of Brothers: Tale of Two Sons tugged the heartstrings while demanding we control two characters at once. AWO operates exclusively on a two-player basis - demanding you find a friend to help in split-screen on the couch or invite a pal online via game-sharing, with no randomers possible.

It speaks to the close cooperation essential to the basic puzzles (distract guard, provide leg-up, push obstacle, etc) and half-hearted combat that make up the majority of AWO's running time.

You can appreciate the cinematic vision the studio is trying to achieve. But the slack script, largely predictable narrative arc and simplistic structure means AWO is never quite as affecting as it would like to be.

Minit

(PS4/XO/PC) ★★★★★ Age: 3+

Dying every 60 seconds might seem an encumbrance but it feels liberating in Minit, a minimalist retro adventure painted in monochrome. Your avatar - a curious duck-like character cursed to live for just a minute at a time - explores small chunks of a barren landscape before expiring.

Each reincarnation can teach something new that persists to the next life and the test is to memorise the quickest path to reach undiscovered territory. When death has no consequence but time lost, you're free to experiment and revel in Minit's quirky world.

It packs wit, charisma and challenge into one small but beautifully formed package. Sure, it doesn't sport much in the way of replayability of its short life span but at just €10, you've got to make time for Minit.

Scribblenauts Showdown

(XO/PS4/Switch) ★★ Age: 7+

Scribblenauts wrote a name for itself by enabling players to conjure almost any object while trying to solve a quirky 2D puzzle. Showdown largely wastes that experience in favour of a procession of uninteresting mini-games.

It's still fun to challenge the game's dictionary - from buffalo to barman and beyond - but the core of Showdown rings hollow thanks to repetition and lack of interest in truly creative solutions.

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