Game Review: Escape Plan (PS Vita)

Escape Plan is a single player puzzle adventure from developer Fun Bits Interactive, it was released as a launch title for the PS Vita and is available to download from the PlayStation store now.

Escape Plan has you control the games two escapees (Lil and Laarg) as they attempt to escape captivity from the Evil Bakuki and his minions. Of course you will need to guide them through the many obstacles and puzzles using the Vita’s dual touchscreens and gyroscope.

The single-player campaign is divided into 8 sections that take you from your initial prison cell to your eventual freedom. This may seem initially small but these sections are then divided into individual rooms that can contain a variety of puzzles, foes and obstacles for you to negotiate. Each puzzle requiring more thought than the last and testing your skills even further. The rooms generally are snack sized and are great for short bursts of play between commutes. Puzzles are not confined to what is just visible on your screen, and your camera will need to be navigated around the room in order to plan your escape. Replay value can be had from collectable signs dotted around Escape Plan, and with the games scoring system, which awards you stars depending on how fast you have completed a room. Attaining the 3 stars for each room can be challenging but never feels like it is completely out of your reach, Even when the answer seems simple, physically getting to the exit may not be.

What makes Escape Plan so unique and charming are its black and white visuals and classic soundtrack. The game is entirely black and white with all sorts of grey shades in between (no, not 50!) which gives your setting a macabre feeling and a grimness to all the fatal obstacles in your path, and yet… the classical soundtrack just halts the game from taking this all too seriously and keeps things light-hearted.

Touch is the main control method for Escape Plan, as well as the Vita’s gyroscope for some levels, this gives the game a very accessible feel, although the d-pad can be used to control Lil and Laarg, but this game was designed with touch controls in mind, so use them! The front and rear touchscreens are both utilised for overcoming the many obstacles you will find blocking your escape, in many puzzles you will need to use a combination of front and rear touchscreen gestures which really do test your reflexes and thinking. However there are times where you can lose track of where objects are in relation to the rear touch pad, especially when you are attempting to do more than a couple of things at once. This is rare though and can easily be overcome with practise, especially if you want to get those 3 stars.

There is no online multiplayer to speak of, however there is a challenge mode to test your skills on. Your level time and number of gestures used are combined to determine your score, making this a tougher proposition than the main campaign and giving you something to think about after the campaign is finished.

Downloadable content is plentiful with The Directors Cut, The Underground and The Asylum level packs all available for a modest fee, and if you do love your Escape from Bakuki’s prison then you wont mind getting captured all over again just for these level packs.

I love Escape Plan and I cannot recommend this game enough to anyone, not just puzzle game fans. As a showcase for what the Vita can do, there is only 1 game I can think of that can match it, and that stars a certain treasure hunter (but that discussion is for another time of course). In short, Escape Plan is a humorous, challenging and fun puzzler that you don’t  need a phd in video game controls!

Ben Gove

At A Glance

Vita Player Rating - 09

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