Escape Plan – Review

Platform | Release Date
VITA | February 22, 2012
Developed by Fun Bits Interactive
Published by Sony

The Pitch:

A Touching Adventure

From the producers behind the award-winning PS3™ system PSN hit, Fat Princess, comes an original new experience — Escape Plan™.

Escape Plan™ takes advantage of the PlayStation®Vita system’s multi-touch display, rear touch panel, swipe interfaces and motion sensor, putting the fate of the hapless heroes in the palm of your hand. Players can swipe, squeeze, poke and slap Lil and Laarg to manipulate the characters and interact with the diverse environments. Only you can help them survive each deadly room before their captor and nemesis, Bakuki, recycles them and turns them into his minions… or sheep.

A primary goal for any video-game hardware manufacturer during their launch window is to showcase titles that take advantage of their new product. Whether it be motion-based controls, touch screens or augmented reality, these new titles are the lure for early adopters and lay a foundation for the platform’s future success or lack thereof. Escape Plan, developed by Fun Bits Interactive turned out to be one of the most interesting launch titles to me when compared to the plethora of ports available. Escape Plan’s charms are on full display in this black and white* only journey which uses most of the Vita’s features to your character’s chagrin.

The maniacal Bakuki is hell-bent on preventing you from escaping from his laboratory alive! Each room spells certain doom for anyone not adept at using the Vita’s touchscreen controls (both front and back) proficiently. You really have to get accustomed to dying often in order to avoid getting frustrated early on. Environmental, mechanical, and living opponents are in your way so being deft with the swipe mechanics will play a key role in your success.

Lil and Llarg. One of rotund proportions, the other more resembling a waif — both sport some sweet matching vinyl-looking outfits . Each of these characters have their own unique skills which can be used when the room has some key components. Lil can inject some caffeine and speed into his movement by sampling some of the hot coffee scattered throughout levels. When available, an air pipe can be used by Lil to inflate himself to float like a balloon — SIXAXIS controls and farting can assist with navigating when inflated in this way. Llarg has a slower movement rate and much more girth allowing him to smash through wooden floors with ease provided there is something soft waiting below. Most rooms are completed using a single character but some require cooperation between the two. These levels are usually multiple floors where you start apart but you exiting the room together when successfully making it through.

Escape Plan allows you to skip any or all the levels you may have difficulty completing. Because of this the assumption of a challenge is somewhat thrown out the door early on. The Vita forced me to hold it much differently than a PSP because of the back track pad which may not be the most comfortable for those who don’t have toddler hands. Being that Escape Plan is such a heavy touch screen dependent title, I question why the typical directional and PlayStation buttons are oddly not used for any purpose whatsoever. The only use of the physical controls are the left and right analog sticks which pan and zoom or move the camera view around. Additionally the game could have done without being forced into swiping your player characters for movement — it is imprecise and a tad bit cumbersome but understandable considering the platform it was designed to showcase.

After finishing Escape Plan I went back and acquired all of the hidden signs littered throughout the levels. Other than those signs the only reason to go back and play more would be to three star each level which requires a maximum amount of swipes or actions performed on the touch screen. Achieving this rating on later levels can be a challenge when going from back touch pad to front screen swipe along with a pinch (tap front and back touchpad in the same area) to maneuver around the hazards. Ultimately the animation, style, and humorous take on self inflicted pain are more than worth the $14.99 price of admission. Looking at the other launch titles you can either pay twice the cost of Escape Plan for a port of a game you most likely already own. Or you can feel confident you don’t need a third copy of Lumines. If you do, then well you know probably know quite a bit about self inflicted pain.

* I lied. The only color found in Escape Plan is a red rose in a vase on a bed side table at the end after the game is completed in a scene possibly eluding to a sequel.

About @artayd2

@artayd2 can be found traversing hills of toddler entrails while searching for the last pint of unicorn blood to quench his ever present thirst.
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