A Way Out is a series of short co-op challenges strung together with story, dialogue and a little exploration. It’s a compendium of split-screen puzzles, stealth, takedowns, combat, driving, leaping and foraging.
In itself, this is impressive. Most third-person action-adventure games center on a core mechanic — usually shooting and fighting — while adding additional side tasks for the sake of variety and pacing. But A Way Out looks like an entire stew of disparate actions, an array of activities. Its only dominant exercise is running, which is appropriate for a game that’s about busting out of prison.
Players take on the role of either Leo or Vincent, two convicts who scheme to get out of the big house. Working together, they overcome guards and obstacles, eventually breaking free into an open world fraught with difficulties.
When A Way Out was first shown at E3 in 2017, its main point of interest was the fact that it was made by Hazelight, the company behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. That superb game was also about two men on a journey, but it was a single-player experience that made use of the characters on screen in order to create puzzles for one person to solve.
This game is made for two people, preferably in the same physical space. It can be played online with a friend, and only one person needs to have bought the game. That said, it’s not a drop-in, drop-out co-op game. At around eight hours long, it demands commitment from both players, and is thus a kind of appointment gaming experience.
A Way Out will be released on March 23 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One, and is priced at $29.99. I’m enormously impressed with what I’ve seen so far, and looking forward to playing it with a variety of friends.