A Way Out is a two player split screen action-adventure game, developed by Hazelight Studios and published by Electronic Arts. The story follows two convicted prisoners who must break out of prison and stay on the run from authorities. The game is available for PlayStation, Xbox and Microsoft Windows and is currently available to play for free via the Xbox Game Pass.
A Way Out’s biggest differentiator is its unique, split-screen cooperative multiplayer focus. The game has no single-player option and can only be completed by working as a team to solve a number of puzzle based scenarios. Whether it’s one player distracting a guard whilst the other player grabs tools for your escape, or both players simultaneously barging into a locked door to force it open it – cooperation is key. I can’t even begin to tell you how long it took us to figure out that we had to barge a door at the same time to open it!
Each player gets the choice of two playable characters; Leo a prisoner imprisoned for grand theft, assault and armed robbery, or Vincent, a freshly incarcerated prisoner, serving time for fraud and murder. Both characters are different in their personality and approach to situations, with Leo being often rash and reckless whilst Vincent is much more level headed. I would highly recommend each picking one character initially and sticking with them throughout the playthrough, as this makes the story so much more immersive.
Whilst the name, A Way Out, may indicate that this is simply a game focused on escaping out of prison, there is much more to it than that. Across its roughly 5 hour story, Vincent and Leo explore a number of different locations and build an almost brother like bond throughout the game. It really doesn’t take you long to become immersed in the story and really begin to root for the characters. I was actually surprised at how compelling the story becomes and without giving away any spoilers, the ending to the story is remarkable and really can only be fully appreciated when playing with a friend.
A Way Out isn’t the most beautiful looking game, you would have a tough job picking it out of a line-up of PS3 games! The variety of in game environments are well designed for the most part, it’s just a shame they look like they are being run on old gen hardware. As well as below average graphics, A Way Out also suffers numerous bugs. I ran into a few issues in my playthrough, particularly where my character would clip through the in game environment, none of which making the game unplayable, but still very noticeable.
Despite its visual flaws, the gameplay is actually quite fun, with the majority of puzzle based mechanics needing teamwork to complete them. There is a good variety of stealth, driving and shooting and whilst the controls can feel a little clunky at times, the gameplay is simple enough that it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of. A Way Out also features a number of multiplayer minigames such as arm wrestling, horseshoes and darts and these minigames help to create a nice little rivalry between players as the game progresses. The game can be a rollercoaster at times – one minute you can be in the middle of a police chase, the next, playing Connect Four with your fellow convict!
The split-screen aspect of the game works brilliantly with the split-screen remaining on screen at all times, even when playing with an online friend. As the story is told simultaneously, there are times where one player can trigger a cutscene whilst the other player is still in control of their character and whilst this may sound like it will cause issues with screen tearing, it actually runs super smoothly. This decision to keep both characters on screen at all times helps players understand both sides of the story.
Teamwork is vital for completing practically any section of A Way Out and whether it’s simply helping your buddy climb up a rock face or working together to take out a hitman, cooperation is fundamental. These teamwork mechanics really do create some beautiful moments between players and it’s this what make it so unique and special. There’s almost some sentiment in the fact that A Way Out can only be played cooperatively with another player and as a result, causes the game to become an emotional adventure.
It’s rare that a video game plays out like a movie and it’s even rarer that a video game can be quite as immersive as A Way Out is, particularly a split-screen co-op game. Whilst the lack of single-player may prevent some gamers from experiencing it, I would highly recommend finding a friend to sit down and fully appreciate the fascinating story of A Way Out. It’s unique split-screen dynamic and puzzle based challenges prove that split-screen gaming is here to stay.
With its engaging story and fun multiplayer mechanics, A Way Out proves split-screen multiplayer action is still as relevant as ever and creates gaming moments that will last a lifetime.
A Way Out is available on Xbox, PlayStation and Windows and is available to download for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Alternatively, you can purchase A Way Out on Amazon here (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)