Escape Plan was able to completely evade my radar right up until it went live on the PlayStation Store the week before its official launch. I started reading online how people were really excited about the game and here I was without a clue. After watching a single trailer for it, I promptly logged into the PS Store on my Vita and bought the game. Escape Plan has a very unique and quirky style, which some will love and some will hate, but in the end it doesn’t achieve stardom. It does leave the blueprints for perfecting it the next time around however.
If you haven’t seen any footage of the game, it is completely designed in black and white, besides a little bit of red in the logo. Our lovable characters Lil and Laarg, who are complete opposites of each other, are trying to escape from the evil Bakuki. This proves ever so daunting for in order to escape they must go through over 70 different rooms each with it’s own puzzle and method of escape. There are four different environments in which these puzzles take place, but they honestly just blend together. I didn’t even realize I left the so called prison area and entered a factory until I went back and looked at the puzzle select screen.
The puzzles in each of the rooms aren’t designed to keep you from escaping, but are designed to kill Lil and Laarg over and over. And over. Expect to die in this game a lot, but dying is also the best strategy as it will teach you how to go about each puzzle. Another hint that the developers expect you to die is your amount of deaths for each character is displayed directly on each ones chest. Most of the puzzles have a single solution to them, but there are some that can be completed through multiple approaches.
Instead of using the face buttons on the system, the game is almost entirely played by using the touch screen on the front and the rear touchpad. Tapping and swiping Lil and Laarg as well as manipulating objects in the room and using the SIXAXIS motion of the PS Vita is all necessary. The shoulder buttons are used to toggle between the two charming characters, while the right analog stick allows you to adjust your view of a puzzle to see what danger lurks ahead.
Solving each puzzle is as easy as getting Lil and/or Laarg to leave the room alive. Without giving away too much, one puzzle has Lil drinking what appears to be coffee which has the magical property of super speed to allow him to cross gaps that he would normally walk off to his doom like a Lemming. Every little tap and gesture is counted at the end of the puzzle, where players are rated on a three-star system. One foul tap and it is enough to drop your rating by an entire star. This is even more difficult by the way you are forced to hold the system in order to make sure no fingers hit the rear touchpad by accident.
To make it more of a challenge, the motions in the game aren’t as precise as they need to be. In a game where you are swiping across the front screen, tapping objects on the rear touchpad and then quickly tapping the character to stop, it requires everything working the first time, every time. Otherwise you will be clearing up blood and guts from the walls and ceilings. Numerous times I found myself having to swipe more than once, or have to repeatedly tap the rear touchpad to move an object and all of these extra gestures will be counted, so if you are trying to get a perfect rating it will lead to a lot of frustrations.
Escape Plan is a download only title on the PS Store and is listed at $14.99, but I can’t help to think if it was at the sweet point of $9.99 it would sell much better and be more of a impulse buy. That is, not to bad mouth what Fun Bits Interactive has created as the game is gleaming with personality and character — I just hope that there will be a sequel in the works. With a few adjustments Escape Plan could be a must-have title for all.Note: Escape Plan was reviewed on PlayStation Vita. A physical copy of the game provided by the publisher.