When thinking of the title ‘Escape Plan’ the first thing that goes through my head is the theme to the Great Escape and really why shouldn’t it? The concept is very similar albeit our heroes aren’t kept locked up in Nazi Germany.
Escape Plan has a very simple story and formula; you take control of two minions of the evil Bakuki, Lil and Larrg and have to complete platforming puzzles to escape, as I said simple. The relationship between Lil and Laarg isn’t defined; however they seem to understand the mutual need to escape from the prison like factory that they inhabit. The actual setting of the game has the most personality as Lil and Laarg never speak, the factory prison is a preverbal death trap with numerous obstacles for Lil and laarg to overcome.
As you may have guessed from their names, one of the main gameplay elements is the size of the two main characters. Lil can fit in smaller gaps and moves faster than Laarg, you get the picture; they both have their own abilities. You will need each of them to negotiate the hazards of the factory. The game is split into rooms that you need to progress through to move on, here is where the first part of the cleverness behind the game comes out. Instead of actually having any tutorials to teach you the mechanics of the game, you learn as you go, making it almost feel like the experiments that Lil and Laarg go through are your own. This means that throughout you are constantly given prompts as to what is required, like being told that a coffee machine gives you energy and that you can squeeze Lil to dash. These prompts obviously help you get through the game that much easier.
This is the key to Escape Plan’s brilliance; the game uses almost all of the new inputs that the Vita offers. Early levels offer lower complexity puzzles such as pushing platforms out of the way or dropping trapdoors to cover open electrical wires, these are done simply by tapping on the touchscreen or back panel. But things progress to more intense problems as you reach the second section of the game, with you having to use the motion gyro to move a balloon through traps for example. The innovative use of the control inputs feels more attuned to actually playing a game than say, Little Deviants, which at times feels more like a clever tech demo.
It is clear that developer Fun Bits has put a lot of energy and thought into the design and presentation of Escape Plan. The film noir look to the game gives it a cleaner, more focused look, with some pretty striking visuals. The cartoon style makes the humour that the game is flooded with even more affective and in Escape Plan shows off some of the best graphics of the Vita’s launch line up. Also the soundtrack offered by the game fits perfectly within the world that has been created.
While there are some rooms that offer a challenge, most will only take you a few attempts and a maximum of three to four minutes to complete. The game does give you a temptation to replay, with a rating system for your completion which is based on how long you take and how many gestures you make to complete the level. There is also a challenge mode that offers overall game challenges to complete within the game, the current one to beat is to complete the game with less than 20 deaths between Lil and Laarg. However, a secondary screen gives news that new weekly challenges will be added at a later date.
The only problem I have encountered with the game is that the gesturing using the back touch panel can be extremely hit and miss; the area you are touching doesn’t always match up. This can of course, cause some very angry moments, especially when you are trying to better your score.
For a launch title, Escape Plan is an accomplished game. It offers some excellent puzzle based platforming with the Vita’s controls integrated expertly into the game. It is such a unique and charming title that even though the screens can be sensitive, it’s still an experience that no-one with a Vita should miss.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
Escape Plan is available now via the PlayStation Store on PS Vita. Why not buy some instant credit from ShopTo and save yourself some cash on this and other games.