A Way Out is a testament to its time. A mandatory co-op game in 2018 is unheard of when most games released in the past few years have been single-player only. However, the game wouldn’t make sense any way other than co-op.
The first hour of A Way Out seems like a generic prison-escape story, but it holds more than meets the eye. A Way Out first starts with duo Vincent and Leo flying to an undisclosed location. The two talk about their time together in the past, which brings the story back to when they first met: prison. Just like any relationship, it takes a while for two people to get to know each other.
The events that lead Vincent and Leo to work together are believable and, most importantly, satisfying. Communication is key if progress is to be made later in the game. From shimmying up a wall to collecting fish or pushing through a door, communication is crucial to complete these challenges. It brings a sense of accomplishment that can only be found in a co-op game.
The characters are brought together in more ways than just escaping prison. Each has attributes the other lacks, which brings great diversity in the dialogue and the characters the duo meet throughout their journey.
There are often times when a situation can be tackled in two ways — for example, an officer is stuck in the elevator with Vincent and Leo. Leo will want to knock out the officer in the fear that he'll call the police, but Vincent will want to act like he has a deadly disease, causing the man to leave in an instant. Both ways are satisfying in their own way and show each character’s personalities strongly. This also gives players an incentive to play the game a second time to see how the different scenarios would have played out.
A Way Out is at its best when the duo needs to find a way out of a tricky situation. One scene has flawless transitions, showing Vincent and Leo both getting out of their dangers separately. It’s a wonder how developer Hazelight pulled it off. The flow is a perfect balance between action and story development, giving the game ample time to explain the characters' backgrounds and motivations.
This game isn’t a walking simulator by any stretch of the imagination. There are mini games throughout that bring Vincent and Leo together in new ways — making the two friends arm wrestle is one of the best that’s offered in the game. It has nothing to do with the story or objective at hand, but it’s something that couldn’t happen anywhere else besides a co-op game.
When A Way Out comes to a close, it’ll seem generic at first: vast jungles, gun runners and the duo blasting its way through mafia-filled buildings. Thankfully, the game brings down the curtain with an ending that’s worth reaching.
Without spoilers, nobody will expect what A Way Out has to offer in its final moments. It brings everything both the characters and the players have learned and throws it back at them, resulting in a dramatic and emotional ending that hasn’t been seen in some time.
A Way Out is a testament to what co-op games can accomplish. With intriguing character development, chase scenes and puzzles, it’s no question this game could be anything but a co-op adventure. A Way Out is more than just escaping prison and proves that finding a way out is easier said than done.