Publishers: Fun Bits Interactive / Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS Vita
The one thing the Vita’s launch was most certainly not short on was games that had large emphasis on the touchscreen and motion controls. Still it has to be said, Escape Plan does not feel like any other game on the Vita. You control Lil (the small one) and Laarg (the opposite of small one) trapped in a factory / jail where every room seems designed to turn them into paste.
The presentation here, both audio and visually, is astounding. With a soundtrack ranging from fun elevator style music to back ground pieces that could play in a Jeeves and Wooster episode, the score is perfect for the black and white visuals that creates a desolate environment for our two escapees, that is somehow both menacing and strangely endearing. All I can think to describe it is a 1950s depressing European experimental art house film mixed with wackier Coen Brothers dark humour and then an extra dose of slapstick. So yeah, it is hard to describe.
It I were to keep up with the cinematic comparisons, I’d be tempted to say that the challenges have a distinct similarity to the indy Sci-Fi film ‘Cube’ but this would not necessarily do them justice. Each stage offers short bursts of gameplay, challenging you to figure out the nature of the room and its traps. You’ll be offered very few, if any, hints and trial and error exploration is required. Either that or guide one of your characters to their doom so you can see the room’s mechanics and compensate on your next go. Once you figure out an escape plan you can swipe to make Lil or Laarg move / stop and then adjust the environment to prevent any harm from falling on them (push out blocks from behind to build a bridge, put your thumb over gas leeks to block them etc). The stages can be quite complex but often, particularly in early stages, very short. I mean four touches of the screen, completed in less than thirty seconds short.
In a game where you guide characters through death traps, the controls must be exceptionally responsive and, unfortunately, here the game comes up short. It works perfectly well most of the time, but there will be many annoying deaths that occur because of control failure. There is also no real difficulty curve and stages can range from ‘mind-numbingly easy’ to ‘so difficult that you don’t even have a clue where to begin’ at any point. The ability to skip stages seems to be the compromise on this issue but to me was a lazy cop-out.
I quite like this game overall but I have no idea why. I turned it off on a number of occasions wondering why on Earth I continued since I seemed to be having no fun but I always returned to the game the next day wanting to play again. At the price range it is being offered at, the game is worth a look for its unique design alone. The real shame is that this is a game that could have been the Vita’s Limo or Braid but it has come up frustratingly short.
Rent or Buy: Download Only
Reviewed by: JP Gallagher
Story by entertainment.ie | 15:43 | Friday 9th March 2012 | Games
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