As a handheld console, and even when it comes to the PlayStation Mobile format, the PS Vita is a more than capable console when it comes to side-scrolling action games and on first glance at the screenshots in the PSN Store, it looked as if Escape was set to add to the growing catalogue of action shoot-em-ups gracing the system. That wasn’t to be the case as I quickly found out…
Set in a futuristic city that has been ravaged by an alien invasion, your only means of escape to safety is a small aircraft with limited firepower and an even more limited fuel supply. The remains of the city are in flames behind you, waves of invading aliens are still coming towards you… all you can do is keep flying as far as you can to escape to safety. Hidden behind this extremely limp plot is essentially a variant on Helicopter with a few alterations to some of the basic mechanics. Rather than being set in a never-ending cave, the landscape takes an open plan approach with the cityscape scrolling past in the background throughout as you play.
Instead of barriers that appear in front of you at random, you have to avoid oncoming alien craft (although for an invading force they don’t seem too determined to stop you as they never seem to fire a single shot in your direction) although rather than heading towards you in single file they approach in varying numbers. To make life slightly easier you have a supply of missiles that you can use to shoot them down before they get close enough to you but if you collide with any of them (as with the barriers in Helicopter or the pipes / similar obstacles in any of the countless Flappy Bird clones) then it’s game over. To add further complications, your fuel is depleting constantly although this, and your missile supply can be replenished by picking extras up along the way from randomly distributed containers that appear in the sky (you know, the fuel cans that float around naturally in the air that we all see on our travels) as well as shield power ups that mysteriously float past you…
This is a mobile game through-and-through as the controls imply. It’s simple enough to control with just two buttons to control everything in the game – one for flight to raise your flighter a-la Helicoper and the other to shoot but absolutely no provision has been made to use any of the PS Vita’s action buttons, shoulder buttons or any other physical controls so it’s clearly been developed with mobile phones in mind. This control method isn’t too bad but when trying to use the ship’s flight controls to navigate between a narrow gap and shoot at oncoming craft it simply isn’t responsive enough and the need for physical button control is clear. Also, quite noticeable is a lag with the controls. More often than not you will find that pressing both controls simultaneously will give priority to the flight control in preference to your missiles. With the Vita’s multi-touch screen using both at the same time shouldn’t be an issue but this makes the game frustrating more often than not.
That’s not the only thing to be wary of… while you’re able to shoot the approaching alien craft you still need to be aware of them at all times. Unlike most shooters, these craft can still pose a danger once shot while they fall to the ground as the burning wreckage of these craft can still hit and destroy your craft resulting in your sudden and unexpected demise. It’s something you’ll quickly adapt to and in the real world it is something that makes sense as something that would happen, but why it’s been included when it’s such a rarity in games is beyond me.
The graphics and sound are somewhat uninspiring. Animation is non-existent and it seems that all of the effort has gone into producing the flame and explosion effects as you and the other craft are destroyed and it seems to be such a pity that so much care and attention wasn’t given to the rest of the game and while it certainly wouldn’t have made this a particularly stand-out title in the PlayStation Mobile range, it certainly would have made a vast improvement on where it is now.
This is another one of those games that has a good idea to add something new to an existing and popular game concept but is let down woefully by poor execution. Even just the addition of physical controls would be a vast improvement and potentially make the game quite playable but as it stands it just too frustrating to be something I can recommend.
At A Glance
- Title: Escape
- Publisher: Adam De Broeck
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 14Mb