Games where you can play with a friend cooperatively have always been designed so that you or your pal can freely drop in and out of the experience. The game never forces you to have two people, and solo play is viable. However, A Way Out takes that philosophy and flips it on its head. Instead of making cooperative play a fun option, it instead makes it a mandatory requirement.
With this unique approach to two-player gameplay comes a slew of excellent mechanics and ideas. Wrapped up by an entertaining and enjoyable narrative, A Way Out is one of the best co-op adventure games available this console generation.
Story: Meet Vincent and Leo
Set in a prison in the 1970s, you and your friend take control of two men: Vincent and Leo. The two of them are inmates, but are different in almost every way. Vincent is witty, level-headed and calm and is going through the process of his wife leaving him, while Leo is bold, loud and lacking in social skills with a family that eagerly awaits his return. Despite their different situations, though, they share common goals: escaping prison, and exacting revenge on a man who caused both of them major problems in the past.
Bound by these similarities, A Way Out sees you work to escape the prison, hunt the man, and hopefully return to a normal life at the end of it all. The plot itself is a bit silly at times, but the characters are written excellently and the friendship that Vincent and Leo form over time with one another is a pleasure to witness.
Gameplay: This is a task for two
Though the story is great, A Way Out's gameplay is where it really begins to shine. Almost everything you need to do to progress through the game is a two-man job, and these tasks will test you and your friend in fun and interesting ways. Examples include sneaking a wrench past a metal detector, avoiding attackers while firing back at them, and even edging your way up a huge metal shaft back-to-back, among countless more.
Often, these "minigames" demand careful timing, smart dialogue choices with NPCs, and a keen eye for things in the environment that could cause you trouble. These are all excellent, but the icing on the cake for A Way Out is the fact that you and your friend can do some fun activities, too. Despite your lawbreaking, Vincent and Leo still find some time for fun. Whether it's heated matches of Connect Four or an intense arm wrestling match, you and your co-op companion can go against each other and then enjoy how the two men interact with one another.
Presentation: Satisfactory, but not flawless
A Way Out is a good looking game overall. It isn't amazing, but the graphics are solid, especially if you own an Xbox One X and can take advantage of the advanced power. The music is likewise satisfying, and while it isn't the best score I've heard in an adventure game, it fits perfectly with the title.
The only gripe I have with the game's presentation is the voice acting. Though it's definitely serviceable and in many cases satisfying, I felt that the people voicing Vincent and Leo could have given some more effort into their performances.
A Way Out for Xbox One conclusion
Aside from a few voice acting mishaps, A Way Out is one of the best cooperative experiences on the Xbox One and anyone who is looking for a game to play with a friend should immediately check this one out for themselves.
- Great writing.
- Excellent gameplay,
- Solid visuals and music.
- Some below-average voice acting.
A Way Out is available on Xbox One for $29.99.
This review was conducted on an Xbox One, using a copy provided by the publisher.