A Way Out is the new narrative-adventure by Hazelight and Josef Fares, the same people who made Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. Brothers received critical acclaim for its incredibly potent and emotional story and unique gameplay. Josef Fares sought out for another masterpiece and as you can tell from his memorable “Fuck the Oscars” speech from The Game Awards, he’s very passionate about it. Did Josef Fares and Hazelight make a worthy follow-up to Brothers? Let’s talk about it.
The story of A Way Out is going to be one of its main selling points. Maybe not the story itself, but the way A Way Out handles its story is definitely a worthwhile experience. The game is strictly co-op only and it gives you control of two men, Leo and Vincent. Leo is the brash and risky option, while Vincent is the more composed and logical of the pair. The story capitalizes on this by offering a few choices mid-gameplay for how to handle certain situations, although it’s never very hard to choose which one makes more sense with Vincent’s choices being the obviously more logical and Leo’s usually being pretty idiotic. The one time me and my friend did go with Leo’s horrible decision though, nothing actually came of it, which is disappointing because, for what it was, something definitely should have. I can say it is pretty cool to see the differences in how they handle situations like getting a laundry cart from a prisoner where Leo just assaults the guy and alternatively, Vincent bargains cigarettes with him. Even the way they do stealth takedowns is distinctive, with Vincent simply choking his victim out and Leo just knocking them out.
The game starts out with Leo already serving his time and Vincent just getting in, quickly running into each other and hatching a plan to get out. Despite a lot of people assuming the game is about their prison break, the prison section is only about an hour and a half long, with majority of the story taking place afterwards. Even though the story can feel kind of like a generic crime thriller at times, it’s definitely worth it to stick around for the amazing last hour. The story also explores a nice variety of areas that never overstay their welcome, which could also be said for all of the gameplay mechanics.
In terms of gameplay, you’ll find a good bit of variety here. There’s stealth, situational puzzles, QTEs, a shooter section, and throughout is a bunch of mini-games you can play with your friend. The game does a good job in mixing its gameplay with its story, meaning that everything you do gameplay-wise is contextual with the story. There are sections in the early game that you won’t be able to do again and there are parts in the late game that you’ve never done before. Some sections don’t last long enough for its gameplay to get tedious or to complain about the shooting or driving mechanics, which are both awful. That’s one of the issues with it though, since the game doesn’t stick to a set of mechanics, some will be hit or miss to you.
As I mentioned before, A Way Out is only playable with another person. With this, Hazelight has done a great job of having the players work together. You absolutely need to have a friend to communicate with. Even the choices you can make in the game requires the players to agree on an option before the game can proceed.
Also notable is that the game is only split-screen, online and off. This may be a turn off to some, but the game utilizes it very well. At most times, it’s essential to know where your partner is and what he’s able to see since there isn’t always a dialogue cue to tell you.
A Way Out is a great co-op adventure to play through with a buddy. With all the cooperation needed and the moments you could share throughout this 6-8 hour story, the asking price of $29.99 is definitely worth it. With the added factor that only one person would need to buy it to play online with a friend, I totally recommend it. The story may not be as impactful as Brothers, but it’s a worthy follow-up from the studio. Besides the awful shooting and driving that you don’t spend much time doing, Hazelight did a great job with this.