Home Game Reviews A Way Out: Solid Co-op to get out of Prison

A Way Out: Solid Co-op to get out of Prison

EA Official: A Way Out - Poster
EA Official: A Way Out - Game Poster

Title: A Way Out Developer: Hazelight Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: March 23, 2018 as PC Game, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Platforms Available: PC Game, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Reading Time: 7 minutes

EA Official: A Way Out - Game for Two Prisoners
EA Official: A Way Out – Game for Two Prisoners

A Way Out Review

I don’t know if I can speak from personal experience since I don’t have any, but I think life in prison can’t be anything pleasant. Complete loss of freedom and privacy is an unimaginable thing in itself, but on top of that, you have murderers, violent criminals, and perpetually angry, insecure guards keeping you company.

Into such an environment arrives Vincent, convicted of murder. One of the two playable protagonists of the game. Despite his sincere efforts to avoid trouble, he quickly gets involved in a fight with several prisoners, where he meets a man named Leo, a hot-tempered con artist locked up for theft, fraud, and minor robberies. Maybe it was fate that brought them together, as it turns out that both Vincent and Leo share a hatred for the gangster Harvey, with whom they both have unfinished business. Together, they devise a plan to escape and set out to put an end to their past once and for all.

Cooperation – the Heart of A Way Out

A Way Out is a game that requires two players to play. So, if you are planning to play it alone, unfortunately, it won’t be possible. However, you can find a friend to play with. The game allows you to invite a second player, even a random player, who can then download the game’s trial version for free and join you. This makes it easy to find a partner and enjoy the game. It’s a great approach that allows players to experience the game’s storyline and gameplay together, creating an engaging experience.

Split-screen, Split Roles of Characters

While playing A Way Out, your screen is practically always divided into two halves (whether you play locally or online), focusing on one of the protagonists. This allows each player to focus on different activities while watching what the other is doing. Outsmarting the guards and getting back to freedom from prison is not easy, so Vincent and Leo will only get far with cooperation. They must help each other, and that’s your responsibility and that of your gaming partner.

EA Official: A Way Out - Split Screen Vertical
EA Official: A Way Out – Split Screen Vertical for Local Players

In both men’s shoes in prison uniforms, you try to bypass the guards in various ways and gradually prepare everything you need for your final escape. And it’s enjoyable. Scenes where one player watches out for passing guards from behind bars and warns, while his partner tries to remove a metal grille from the wall of his cell with a stolen chisel, or when you climb up a wide shaft back to back and are forced to progress at the same pace with the other player otherwise, you can expect a painful fall, these situations are just extraordinary.

The peak of challenge and cooperation in A Way Out is the boat ride down the raging river where Leo and Vincent end up during their escape. By paddling on the correct side of the ship, you steer and avoid rocks and boulders. The river current becomes more robust, and steering the boat becomes more difficult. The gradual escalation of the entire scene works perfectly here. The first half of the game has different moments. Distracting guards, finding necessary tools, sneaking around, and preparing for a giant escape bring cooperation, fun, and tension, and you will thoroughly enjoy A Way Out. However, the excellent feeling slowly starts to fade once you escape from prison.

Immersing Yourself in a Story Full of Inspiration from the Surroundings.

The biggest issue with A Way Out is the need for its own identity. The first half presents as a severe prison drama and successfully combines suspenseful passages with calmer ones that depict the emerging friendship between Vincent and Leo. Studio Hazelight draws inspiration from famous prison films such as The Shawshank Redemption, which you will remember several times, but that’s okay. Even a copy has the right to exist if it is well-executed. The part set in the prison undoubtedly succeeded.

In the second half of the game, however, someone on the scriptwriters’ team seems to have gone crazy and stuffed the game with frantic action sequences reminiscent of 80s movies. The significant contrast between the intimate beginning and the adrenaline-fueled ending of A Way Out sometimes works, but occasionally, it doesn’t, and the shooting sequences become more and more abundant. The obvious inspiration from the video game series Uncharted is quite noticeable (but in a good way).

Thanks to a relatively triumphant finale and the main twist of the whole story, you may be okay with the shorter gameplay time of 6 hours in A Way Out. On the other hand, due to the clichés, you may have the opposite feeling and look forward to the end. Unfortunately, the characters of Vincent and Leo also do not undergo any significant development.

To be fair to A Way Out, you can’t complain about monotony while playing. The environment often changes, and in the game, you will encounter many well-executed mini-games such as darts, piano playing, board games, basketball, or even balancing on a wheelchair. Yes, really! While these are minor details, they can immerse a person, and you can often compete with a friend on the second controller to see who scores more points.

I must also praise the option of choosing how to handle individual situations, where you can approach things in Leo’s style (let’s say in a “unique” way) or in Vincent’s style (more calmly and rationally). For example, a bridge full of police checkpoints can either be crawled under through the lower structure or by knocking out a police officer and stealing his vehicle. The choice is yours, but there are plenty of such decisions in the game, encouraging replayability, not to mention the two different endings you can work towards again.

Audiovisual and Technical Aspects of the Game

So far, I have mainly discussed gameplay, but players are also interested in how A Way Out looks and sounds. The audiovisual presentation is alright. The music is quite unobtrusive, and I hardly noticed it during gameplay, but the voice acting of most characters is excellent.

When it comes to graphics, it’s more complicated. The prison is well-detailed, but nature looks noticeably worse. Slowly loading textures and a lifeless impression sometimes detract from an otherwise good atmosphere. However, A Way Out occasionally surprises with quite impressive lighting. Ultimately, it’s not anything particularly ugly, just a better average. On the other hand, I didn’t encounter any significant technical issues throughout the gameplay, which is a definite plus, and the smoothness of the experience and progression were not significantly disrupted.

In conclusion, this is a solid Co-op game with decent graphics, fun situation resolution, gameplay, and good progression, but with lagging personality, leading character development, and lackluster music. If you like co-op games for two where this aspect is really emphasized, A Way Out is the game for you despite its flaws.

A Way Out: Look Around or Buy

Official Website: Discover the Groundbreaking Co-Op Adventure “A Way Out” – Visit the Official Site Now!
PlayStation Store: Two Prisoners, One Unforgettable Escape – Get It Now on the PlayStation Store!
Steam: “A Way Out” on Steam: Unmatched Co-Op Gameplay and Storytelling – Available Now!
Epic Games Store: Experience the Gripping Tale of “A Way Out” – Play Now on the Epic Games Store(PC)!
GOG: “A Way Out” on GOG (PC): Thrilling Co-Op Action and a Captivating Narrative – Get It Now!
Nintendo Switch: “A Way Out” Comes to Nintendo Switch – Escape Prison with a Friend Anytime, Anywhere!
XBox: A Way Out on Xbox

Wikipedia: A Way Out (video game) – Wikipedia
Metacritic: A Way Out Review on Metacritic – A Gripping Co-Op Adventure That Rewards Teamwork
OpenCritic: A Way Out Review Roundup on OpenCritic – An Ingenious Take on Co-Op Storytelling