It takes two for this prison-break game

A Way Out is played from a third-person perspective via a split-screen mode.
A Way Out is played from a third-person perspective via a split-screen mode.

A Way Out is an unconventional indie game written and directed by award-winning Swedish film director Josef Fares.

It is unconventional in the sense that it is designed to be exclusively cooperative. In other words, you cannot play this game alone. You have to either invite a friend over the Internet to play with you or get someone to sit beside you with another controller.

This forced cooperative gameplay can be quite troublesome as you need to coordinate with a friend to play online or cajole a family member to play with you (I rope in my wife for this review).

You and your friend (or bored spouse) play as Leo and Vincent, or vice versa. Both are convicted prisoners attempting to break out of prison together. They share a common goal of seeking revenge against a crime lord called Harvey.

The game is played from a third-person perspective via a split-screen mode. Players will need to cooperate to advance the story.

Each situation is different and players can take on different roles to tackle the same scenario.

For example, in one instance, Vincent needs to distract a guard while Leo retrieves a tool to use for the prison break. Leo and Vincent can swop their roles in another play-through.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $34.90 (PS4, PC; Xbox One, version tested)

    GENRE: Action-adventure

    RATING: 7/10

The story will not progress until objectives are met. If you are unsuccessful, you have to replay that particular stage. As such, the game can get draggy at times.

As it is an indie production, I am not expecting top-notch graphics. However, the graphics are pretty decent and you can see the subtle facial expressions of the two leads clearly.

The character actors, especially the two main leads, have done a pretty good job in animating and voicing their characters.

There are a lot of quick time events, or QTEs, which require you to push certain buttons upon on-screen prompts to deliver certain actions. With the number of QTEs, the game feels like an interactive movie at times. But like a movie, you want to continue to play to watch what happens next.

After you buy the game, the friend you invite does not need to buy the game. He supposedly needs only your invitation.

However, after I invite a friend to play with me over Xbox Live online, he found that he needs to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to play. Plus, he cannot get the invite until he has bought the game. There must be something wrong somewhere.

I can see A Way Out being a fun party game.

Sitting down with one of your friends during a housewarming or Christmas party and playing the game together will be like watching a movie together and having a hand in it as well.

•Verdict: Being cooperative only, A Way Out is a bold experimental game that is refreshing compared with the current staple of games. While draggy at times, the overall experience is quite enjoyable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'It takes two for this prison-break game'. Print Edition | Subscribe