Since it was announced, The Way Out caught everyone’s attention for its interesting cooperative gameplay proposal. The game was released last Friday, and did it live up to everyone’s expectations? Let’s find out!

A dream of freedom

The Way Out takes place in 1972, and introduces us to two inmates: Vincent and Leo. The two did not know each other out there, but ended up creating a pseudo-friendship behind bars because of the same guy who marked their lives. They want to go after this guy, but to do that, they need to find a way out of prison.

As much as much of the game’s marketing has taken advantage of this side “prison break“, the breakout itself represents only 1/3 of the game. I won’t go into too much detail here so as not to ruin your journey, but what we have here is an extremely cinematic experience, with chases, shootouts, and situations designed for cooperative work.

Like that.

Although I keep my foot on the gas most of the time, The Way Out is also concerned with telling a good story, and gives us time to get to know the characters, explore, talk. Not one, two stories, after all, we have two protagonists. The Way Out has the action I described up there, but it’s also a game about confidence, fellowship and team work, about two guys trying to get their lives back on track.

I don’t want to talk too much about the story because that’s the kind of game that gets cooler the less you know about it. The Way Out it’s never especially difficult, and learning to overcome obstacles is part of it. But the gameplay itself isn’t everything, there is an intense, touching and surprising story being developed, which you and your friend deserve to appreciate in your time.

Player 2 is indispensable

By now you should know this, but it never hurts to remember: A Way Out is a game designed for 2 players — online or offline. Whether you’re playing in “coop sofa” or over the network, the screen will be split most of the time, simply because one player seeing what the other is doing is part of the audiovisual experience idealized by the producers.

The screen is split almost all the time.

This won’t sound so strange if we remember that the person responsible for the story and direction of the game — the Lebanese filmmaker Josef Fares –, already moved us in 2013 with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, game that was kind of a cooperative adventure for just one player. This time around, he expanded that scope, with a truly 2-player game that simply wouldn’t work any other way.

It is noteworthy that there was a very nice effort to make the experience accessible: 2 players can enjoy the entire game online even if only one of them has purchased the game. That’s how I played this first time, and it worked perfectly.

While one watches, the other works.

How it does it: Very simple: the “player 2” player can download the demo and be invited by the “player 1” (aka the player who bought the game) to enjoy the entire campaign alongside him. There is no matchmaking, online coop is by invitation only. Click here to learn more and take advantage of this opportunity!

cooperation is everything

the gameplay of The Way Out overall it is very simple, involving exploration, Quick Times Events and situations that work like puzzles, requiring collaboration and coordination between the two players to be overcome. Finding a way to outwit police officers, watch an area while the other player does something “suspicious”, push heavy things and break down doors or even coordinate paddles to prevent the boat from taking too much damage are some of the things we’ll do in the game.

Even though it is an experience designed to be linear, the world of The Way Out strives to be “alive”: you can chat with many NPCs, and although many of these conversations go nowhere, they are there to make the little game world feel authentic, organic.

And between intense moments, you can take some time to play darts, arm wrestling, play baseball or do a banjo and piano duet with your friend, prosaic activities that humanize the protagonists and ease the tension of the player.

Don’t miss the banjo & piano duet!

When describing The Way Out to a friend, I said he looks like “a Brothers version Uncharted, produced by Quantic Dream“. Although that doesn’t do justice to the capricious staff at hazelight — the studio responsible for the game — are great references for cinematographic games, with an emphasis on adventure and Quick Time Events that make the gameplay more dynamic, so you can enjoy the game without worrying about very complex sequences of buttons.

Speaking of which, check out one of the most intense moments of gameplay — and one of the rare moments when the screen isn’t split:

If there’s one downside in terms of gameplay, it’s its home straight, where it sort of becomes a third-person shooter. This snippet isn’t really bad in terms of mechanics (although it’s not that good either), but it just goes against the proposal we’ve seen up to that point, as it was always possible to sort things out stealthed or “lially” without go out shooting everyone.

In fact, it is noteworthy that Way Out has 2 different endings, and several situations in the game can be resolved in two ways: the approach of Vincent tends to be more diplomatic, restrained, while Leo he will always prefer to “put his foot in the door” and solve everything more aggressively. Deciding which way to go is one more thing the two players must do together.

Audiovisual

did you watch the movie Tintin’s adventures (by the way, there is an analysis of it here on the website)? The aesthetic of The Way Out reminded me a lot of the film based on the work of Herge, because he mixes realistic environments with characters a little caricatured, but very expressive. I think there is an excess of mustaches that make the NPCs kind of equal, but other than that, the game has a very nice look, and an impeccable art direction.

The fact of Josef fiber being a filmmaker contributes a lot to the mood of The Way Out: the game is extremely cinematic, with dramatic camera angles that make each scene even more memorable. The way the split screen integrates with gamepay itself is also really cool, and at times the split changes so that we can get a wider view of events, or a synchronized two-player action triggers an exciting full-screen sequence.

An example of the screen divided into 3 parts.

The Way Out arrives with menus and subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese, and the localization work was very well done, without omitting any bad words, and keeping the excellent quality of the original audio in English, which contributes a lot to the personality of Vincent and Leo. Although every now and then it is clear that The Way Out is a modest budget game, he knows how to be stylish to disguise his limitations.

Conclusion

Way Out is an amazing experience, unlike anything else I’ve played. Its frenetic pace and competent direction make it feel like a movie, while the cooperative gameplay mechanics make its “game side” a pleasant surprise to enjoy with a partner.

In times where game styles set trends — see the flood of souls-Likes and Battle Royales who have painted lately –, I hope A Way Out creates a new trend. I would very much like to see the naughty dog producing something like that, after all, she already has plenty of experience in creating cinematic cooperative games… but “player 2” (be it sully, Ellie, Chloe or Elena) is commanded by the AI.

What we have here is a rare gem in the gaming world, which dares to be different in an age where creativity and daring are lacking. Precisely for this reason it is special, and deserves to be appreciated by gamers with good taste, who have a player 2 with whom to share the strong emotions of the campaign.

Freedom is just the beginning of the journey!

In addition to a pleasant surprise, The Way Out no doubt it already is one of the best games of 2018 — or even of this generation. An awesome game, well resolved and well executed, which can thrill and thrill in that magical way that only the best games can.

The Way Out was released in March 23, with versions for SQUARE, Playstation 4 and Xbox one.

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