Written by Micah Messer
Playstation Vita launched with a pretty fantastic lineup, consisting of over 20 physical and downloadable titles. Escape Plan, made by some of the minds behind the PSN title, Fat Princess, is definitely one of the most promising games among that group. A puzzler that makes full use of the Vita’s front and back touch pads to the extent that buttons aren’t used at all. It takes a bit to get used to, but this game is well worth it. Its presentation is undeniably unique and filled with charm, and the game itself is a joy to play. Oh, and it’s only $15 on the PSN.
The best way to describe Escape Plan’s appearance would be to say it’s a mixture of Limbo and LittleBigPlanet. Limbo, for its eerie, black and white tone– LBP for its fun, light-hearted main characters, Lil and Laarg. In addition to Escape Plan’s excellent visual style, it also has fantastic sound design. The game features a classical score including the likes of In the Hall of the Mountain King, and Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca. There’s also some jazzy tunes thrown in that fit the black and white art style perfectly. The game also uses the classic laugh, gasp and clap tracks as if there were a live studio audience watching Lil and Laarg stumble their way through Bakuki’s Lair.
I’ll bet you can guess who’s who.
See those numbers on their chests? Yeah, that’s the number of times that they’ve died. That screenshot is pretty early in the game, so rest assured, you will die a lot, often in highly comical fashions. The antagonist of the game is a short masked fellow named Bakuki. Like any good villain, he has a lair filled with horrible death contraptions that will kill you if you take the slightest step out of line. You begin the game by waking up right in middle of this hell hole. Well, obviously the next step is to escape. To do this, you have to lead Lil and Laarg through 78 puzzles, up and out to safety. Sounds easy right?
As I mentioned earlier, the game controls entirely through touch controls, with some gyroscope sequences thrown in for good measure. This may turn some people off, but they actually pull it off quite well. This is mainly due to the clever implementation of the control scheme. If you swipe Lil or Laarg in a direction, then they start automatically walking that way until given further instruction. Usually, you then have to manipulate your environment in order to get your varying-sized buddies to safety. This involves pushing obstacles out of the way, tricking enemies into triggering their own traps ect.
The puzzle solving itself is most likely different from what you’ve come to expect from a game like this. Compare it to something like Portal, where the difficulty comes from figuring out how to solve the puzzle at hand, and performing the actions is usually a breeze. In Escape Plan, it’s the opposite. Usually it’s pretty apparent from the get-go exactly what you’re supposed to do, but the difficulty comes from the execution. It requires perfect timing and precise touch control to get through the puzzles. It’s a nice, refreshing take on the genre as a whole.
It’s hard to explain just exactly how Escape Plan works or how it looks, so check out this trailer.
If you’re not quite sold on Escape Plan yet, on April 10th, developer Fun Bits Interactive decided to sweeten the deal. They released a piece of free DLC titled “Bakuki’s Lair” that includes 19 prequel puzzles, as well as adding “more pin-point accuracy on tap blocks, in addition to an adjustment to the game’s star rating system.” They also recently released the Asylum DLC that includes even more puzzles, and you can pick it up for $0.25 for the next two weeks. After June 26 however, Asylum will revert back to its normal price of $5.00. This is an obvious sign that the developer respects its community and plans on supporting the game post-release.
Overall Score: 83
One of the best things Escape Plan has going for it is its unique presentation, but that’s not all it does right. Its innovative use of the Vita’s touchpad functionality, and fun game play make this a great title that exudes charm.
Genre Score (Puzzle): 79
Escape Plan’s puzzles are not very complex or hard to crack, but its unique take on puzzle solving almost includes some elements of platforming, despite there being no jumping involved. For only $15, it’s hard not to give my recommendation for any puzzle solver on-the-go.