Looking back on the last three months, there have been a couple of great games that I played, one being the highly-recommended Life is Strange and the other the excellent, super-cute VR adventure Moss. Here’s the third.
On March 23rd, Hazelight dropped A Way Out, a co-op adventure for two players, that can be played both local and online (I have tried both versions). Though it is a short game (we finished it in, I think, three sessions of 2 hours each), it left me with many questions, which, in this case, is very good, thanks to the choice-based gameplay.
Watch out for mild spoilers.
You and your buddy play prison inmates Vincent and Leo, who both have a bone to pick with a guy named Harvey, but for different reasons. Together, they hatch a plan of getting out of prison and taking down the bad guy.
In the very beginning, you have to choose which character you and your buddy want to play, respectively. For me, Leo was the natural choice, since he’s got a temper and leans more towards confrontation and violence than Vincent. My online buddy fits Vincent very well, I believe, but my local buddy and best friend also has a temper, same as me, which resulted in us bickering among ourselves quite a lot.
(The first couch co-op session we played was something like Call of Duty, if I remember correctly, and she got mad because I kept on wiping out both her and her bot-team repeatedly.)
The story of A Way Out is told in flashbacks, which adds to the suspense of whether or not Vincent and Leo will succeed in the end. Without giving away too much, yes, they get out of prison and ask their way (politely, in Vincent’s case and not so politely in Leo’s) through a number of locations, the most awesome of which I thought was the construction site.
Vincent and Leo are like fire and water, which will result in some scenes where you will find yourself siding with one rather than the other. I, personally, came to dislike Leo, even though I was playing him. But then, the dialogue choices I picked were in character, or so I thought. I will have to play him again and choose the nicer options next.
Vincent, on the other hand, really is too good for this world and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why he would ever commit a murder (that’s what he is in prison for).
The story is driven both by both men’s need for vengeance, a classic setup but extremely well executed, always tense, sometimes tender and never boring, as well as their family backgrounds. Leo’s relationship is one to die for, I think, since he and his partner trust each other blindly. Vincent, on the other hand, who I imagined to have a happy relationship, him being the nice guy, doesn’t, which came as a surprise to me.
The storytelling itself is intense and full of surprising twists and turns, which is truly awesome. The ending especially had me thinking a lot about the choices we made throughout. I’ll definitely have to play this one a couple of times more.
How to play
Playing co-op, you have to be able to communicate with your partner, that is a given. For me, it was therefore very interesting to play online with a buddy who I have been playing with a lot of different games in co-op . Therefore, we know each other’s playstyle very well and make a very good team overall, I think. My local buddy, on the other hand, is extremely competitive, but she does not play often and co-op even less, and that shows.
(We have still to finish the game together, which is why I try to avoid spoilers.)
The game is designed in such a way that situations can only be resolved when working in tandem. There is next to no solo-play apart from a few optional dialogues with NPCs that each character can trigger while exploring a new location and apart from a section a little later in the game. You can also compete against each other playing games, like swinging a baseball bat, playing banjo and so forth, which is very much fun.
What makes A Way Out special is the fact that when it comes to major choices, you have to decide whether to play it Vincent’s way (pacifistic) or Leo’s way (mostly violent). Over time, you get a feeling for what way may play out best (and sometimes will be surprised by your choice) and I admit that we mostly chose to play it Vincent’s way. My next playthrough will therefore be the play-it-Leo’s-way-playthrough.
See, since I played the beginning of the game with my local buddy first and with my online buddy second, there was one situation pretty much right after the prison break where we chose Vincent’s way the first time, which was just peachy, and Leo’s way the second. Suffice to say that out of the four times we had to re-try it, both Leo and Vincent ended up getting shot once each.
As far as co-op gameplay and storytelling goes, A Way Out is the best game for two players that I have played so far. Great characters, great story, great fun!
Are you going to play it? Let me know! Next on my to-play-list are Detroit: Become Human, which is supposedly out in May, and Vampyr after that, come June.
If you know of another new PS4-title coming out that I should play, let me know in the comments, I’d appreciate it!
Until then, keep on playing!