Escape Plan Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
Meet Lil and Laarg, two monochrome misfits who have gotten tired of doing Bakuki’s handiwork. They’ve devised a plan to escape from their evil master and are in need of your help! Guide them through room after room full of booby-traps that would give even Indiana Jones fits.
Escape Plan is a puzzle game where the objective is to clear a series of rooms that contain a number of puzzles and traps. The game heavily leverages the front and rear touch surfaces, as well as the Six Axis tilt functions of the console. The controls are pretty basic: simply swipe Lil or Laarg to have them move across the room and tap on objects such as buttons, levers, cappuccino machines, and helium tanks to make their way through a given area. Platforms and other objects can be moved to assist your escapees as well by tapping on the front or rear touchpads, depending on which way you wish to push them. Careful timing and quick wits are a necessity when playing this game. If you’re not paying attention to the details in a level, poor Lil and Laarg might meet a rather messy demise.
The gameplay aspect of Escape Plan is both enjoyable and amusing, but at times frustrating. Some levels require you to “pinch” the screen for certain movements (such as getting a hilariously caffeinated Lil to charge his way across the screen), which necessitates almost pinpoint precision in having your fingers in the right location on the front and rear touchpads. This pinch movement sometimes needs to be done more than once in rapid succession, which can be difficult to manage. To add to the challenge, many of the later levels require multiple hand motions going on at the same time to get Lil and Laarg to the next door.
Fortunately, developer Fun Bits Interactive makes things a bit more lighthearted when they don’t go according to plan by adding a laugh track to an amusing demise. But after dying in the same spot a good ten or fifteen times, the laugh track stops becoming amusing. Of course, if you’re having difficulty traversing a given area, you can skip the level and come back to it at a later time. At the end of an area, your performance is graded by the amount of time it took to clear and the number of gestures it took to make it through, with the best possible score being three stars. To get the best scores, you need to be cognizant of where your hands are at all times, as it can be very easy to rest your fingers on the back touchpad, which counts as a gesture. This feels like more of a flaw with the hardware than it is the game, however.
The monochrome art style that is employed brings a bit of 1930s sci-fi and art deco elements and mixes it with a few modern bits such as recycling bags lying about the environments. But the true enjoyment is in the animations of Lil and Laarg themselves, and the side characters they interact with. Each one of our latex-laden protagonists has their own quirks that you come to know while playing. Lil’s penchant for cappuccino gives him the jitters as he spews non-stop gibberish, and gains the ability to quickly dash short distances. These caffeinated powers come with a disclaimer to be careful of obstructions when dashing, else you’ll be left with nothing more than a black splatter of a Lil-shaped Rorschach blot. Laarg, being the more rotund of the duo, throws his weight around quite literally, crashing through floors and doors on command. He has a hefty giggle when you poke him, and is the bane of any sheep that he’s using for a cushion from high falls. Both of our heroes have a number on their chest that you may find changes quite frequently. This is because the kids at Fun Bits decided it would be funny to paint the number of times you’ve died on Lil and Laarg’s chests as a constant reminder of your vigilance (or lack thereof).
Brief intermissions in the game are encountered much like the old 30s and 40s style movies that the game is modeled after. Minions on stage do musical numbers for your enjoyment, dancing to show tunes such as the “William Tell Overture” (think Lone Ranger theme), among others. These intermissions are highly enjoyable as well as much-needed breaks when you realize that you’ve been playing Escape Plan for a good two hours solid. There’s so much to enjoy in the intricacies of the game that it becomes a full-on distraction from the day-to-day that you easily lose track of time. Speaking of music, Escape Plan has lots of it. This isn’t your typical generic level music that’s thrown on a PSN game. No siree. Music the likes of “Lean On Me,” the aforementioned “William Tell Overture,” as well as tons of classical and jazz tunes will grace your ears as you enjoy this game for hours. These quirky tunes may sound a bit old fashioned, but they fit the mood perfectly.
Aside from the pinch mechanic, you won’t find anything wrong with this game. What you will find is hours of entertainment, hilarity, and possibly a Vita screen in need of a good cleaning from smudges. For $14.99 USD, Escape Plan is a game that should be kept under heavy guard in your PlayStation Vita!
Escape Plan receives a 4.75/5.
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