Escape Plan Review
Developer: Fun Bits Interactive
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
North American Release Date: February 22, 2012
European Release Date: February 22, 2012
Trophies: Yes, | 9 | 3 | 1 | 0 |
Escape Plan was previously hyped as one of the games to be on the lookout for as you buy your new Vita. With a unique graphical design and puzzle elements in its gameplay, Escape Plan definitely looked to be a promising launch title for the Vita. Available only through the PSN store, Escape Plan certainly has some tricks up its sleeve, but is it enough to take the bullet for the game's flaws?
Escape Plan is a whimsical puzzle game at its heart. Utilizing nothing more than the Vita's unique and new controls, the gameplay is utterly simple. However, as games such as Flower have shown us, less is many times more. In fact, the simplistic style to the gameplay is one of Escape Plan's biggest draws. It's a shame, then, that the gameplay loses it's footing when it comes to its controls.
Similar to Portal, players must guide two hapless heroes through a series of levels, avoiding fatal traps, falls, poison gas, and more along the way. Using the Vita's touchscreen, motion controls, and back-panel features, players control Lil and Laarg by swiping, tilting, and touching the Vita. Under normal circumstances, this might be a repetitive control scheme. Here however, it is actually refreshing as we get to experience features that Sony has never had the chance to produce on a handheld before. That said, the controls just sometimes don't work. Despite being a simple and easy to grasp control scheme, actions become increasingly difficult to perform. One, where you must, 'pinch,' Lil by tapping both the back and front touch screens at the same time can be a difficult task, especially since using your fingers can block your sight of view. When traps are so dangerous, and one slip up leads to your demise, not being able to promptly use controls can lead to countless deaths and frustration.
Watch out, Laarg!
However, I have absolutely no other major gripes with Escape Plan's gameplay. It's fun, unique, and extremely simple - Just what you want out of a PSN game.
The difficulty is also a high note. The learning curve is at a perfect angle, getting slightly more difficult with each level, but never to the point of absolute frustration. Puzzles are challenging, but always straightforward. Most can be solved through simple, albeit somewhat tedious, trial and error, which some may love while others hate. Personally, while a tad annoying, I didn't have much of a problem going in with a trial and error strategy. It's to the game's credit, however, that I don't actually mind death. Every death is a learning experience and one that be solved with some thinking.
In Escape Plan you play as both Lil and Laarg as they try to escape from the evil clutches of the antagonist, Bakuki... And that's about it. The story is about as light as they come, but it gets its jobs done in the end, giving some incentive to continue on in order to, well, escape.
The real star of the show here is Escape Plan's level design. Considering this is a puzzle game, levels need to be good and difficult to solve in order to get our minds racing to figure out the solution to completing a level. Thankfully, Escape Plan doesn't disappoint. Considering there's around 200 levels in the game, and each one is different from the next, Fun Bits needs to be applauded just for having creative enough minds to come up with so many puzzles, traps, and tricks. However, the bigger achievement here is that they're all fun and exciting to play through. Once you pick Escape Plan up, you get hooked and find that you want to keep pressing on to see what new challenges await you in the next level.
Hapless heroes, Lil and Laarg.
While there may not be that much of a plot, after you complete each segment you are treated to a small cutscene that depicts Bakuki getting enraged at Lil and Laarg's success. While there may not be much depth to these cutscenes, the fact that they are there helps to offer a break from the action of the game.
The lack of an actual story is neither a high note, nor a low one. While I'm always someone who appreciates some good character development and a good story, Escape Plan is simplistic, and doesn't need a story full of intrigue in order to draw you in.
Creative. Weird. Like no other. All of these adjectives could be used to describe Escape Plan's graphical style and musical score. With the entire color palette being black and white, Escape Plan many times feels as if it's a gory and old cartoon. Despite the gore of our heroes being splattered across a wall as if made of paint, frequent laugh tracks and fart noises are there to lighten the mood. Despite how weird the whole presentation is, you'll still find yourself laughing once in a while at these silly little things.
Adding to the unique look of the game is just how great the graphics are. While there is never a lot going on in the screen at once, what's there looks amazing. In fact, the graphics in Escape Plan can even rival some console games.
Simple, yet stunning.
However, my personal favorite part of the entire game is its musical score. Comprised entirely of classical music, the score really sets the mood and truly brings a smile to my face. Rarely do we see games that utilize this genre of music, so not only is it refreshing, but it also adds to the whole experience of the presentation a lot.
Despite Escape Pan only having 13 trophies, they are not easy to achieve and it will take some time to obtain them all. This dedication makes the trophies fun to get since the replay value of the game comes primarily from its trophy list. Hunters rejoice, this game has a great group of trophies worth going for.
Escape Plan is a game that's very difficult to compare anything to, simply because gaming has really never seen anything like it before. While a puzzle game on the surface, everything from its design to its graphics is unique, and it's simply a refreshing game to play. While it does have some flaws, they're not going to detract from the overall experience all too much. Escape Plan is short, but is still a game that can be enjoyed to the fullest. Considering the asking price, this is a game that should be on your Vita.
Even though it has its issues with controls, Escape Plan is still a very fun and perfectly difficult puzzle game.
Level design is top notch, but there's nothing special here in terms of plot.
Escape Plan's unique graphical style and musical score make this one of the best games I've played in a long time, presentation-wise.
Overall: 9/10 Brilliant