Escape Plan is a platform, puzzle game developed by Fun Bits Interactive and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Originally, this was a launch title for the PS Vita on the 22nd February 2012 but was released in 2013 for the PS4. Escape Plan is a feature-rich game which brings every aspect of the PS4 controller into use and allows you to interact with near enough every bit of the environment possible, even if it is just creating a sound rather than the object moving. Honestly, it is one of the most enjoyable indie games I have played and before writing this review I have spent 6 hours of gameplay and I still haven’t completed it, so for an indie game the play time is long, and this doesn’t include the bonus chapter and DLC’s in the game.
Escape Plan focuses on two characters called Lil and Laarg (Lil meaning little relating to the thin character and Laarg meaning large relating to the fatter character). There is really no back-story to why these pair are both in the prison but you instantly take the role of Lil and here you proceed to solve your first puzzle which is also the easiest in the game. After a couple of levels you will eventually come across Laarg and you have to free him from his captivity. After freeing him you will be allowed to play as both characters in one level, this will help in the completion of puzzles, due to both characters having their own abilities. Lil is able to use helium to blow himself up like a balloon and he will gain altitude, he can be deflated by pressing circle. Laarg can use his weight to break open barricades and stand on larger platforms. Another feature about the characters is that the amount of deaths you have had with each character is displayed on their bodies, for example if you have died 40 times with Lil he will have the number 40 on his chest but if you have only died 2 times with Laarg he will have the number 2 displayed on his chest.
Throughout the game the puzzles will get harder, which is expected from a platform game. They will require more thinking and a more logical approach at times. The puzzles at the start will only have one main objective such as stepping on a pressure plate to get a platform to appear. But as you progress, the puzzles will combine different features, such as stepping on a pressure plate and having to clear a room full of gas simultaneously. This will increase the difficulty of the puzzles, especially for people like me who struggle to multi-task. As the game progresses you will have to use both characters to complete certain puzzles, even though you will separate during the game at some points. Furthermore, the puzzles can sometimes require you to look around other parts of the map before actually starting the puzzle, this will mean that you will either have to kill some of the enemy’s minions or you will have to drop a mattress for a soft landing after falling. Thankfully, if any of the puzzles become too difficult or frustrating then there is always the skip button (I am ashamed to say I have used this once before).
As I mentioned earlier, the game uses every feature of the PS4 controller. How is this possible? The game allows you to use the touchpad to turn fans, flip switches or to move lifts; all of these actions have to be done in the direction you want them to go, so to turn the fan you would have to rotate your finger the direction you want the fan to turn. This is the same with switches and lifts. As well as this, the motion feature on the pad allows control over Lil when you are inflated with the helium. Also the use of the direction arrows on the the PS4 pad to control the direction of the character and you use the left analogue stick to control a pointer which will allow you to choose what you interact with and what the character interacts with.
The game itself has a good use of sound, not taking into account the sounds you get from interacting with things but I am more focusing on the general soundtrack of the game. The use of the soundtrack is good,most of these songs are either old pieces of music or music from an orchestra. One of the only pieces of music I recognise in this game is the piece by Edvard Grieg, which I have heard many times before because it is the theme tune for Alton Towers theme park. The reason the music seems so fitting is because it gives off a relaxed feeling when you are trying to solve the puzzles but it isn’t anything that will create the wrong atmosphere for the game such as suspense or action. To be honest I don’t really notice the music that much during the game, to me it is just some background noise while I am trying to complete a puzzle.
Escape Plan has many features in the duration of the game, one of these features is a star rating at the end of each level depending on the time you completed it in. You can earn up to three stars, getting all three stars meaning you completed it in the quickest time for the level. I am not too sure on what the time boundaries are because they vary depending on the puzzle you are attempting to complete. Another feature is that when you die in the game black ink is splattered everywhere, replacing blood, this adds to the humour (when you die you will hear a crowd laughing at you) it makes the game light-hearted and not so serious. During the game, you are able to discover signs placed around each level, these are able for you to collect throughout the game, some are more difficult to find than the others though.
Escape Plan is an entertaining puzzle game which I have had hours of fun playing and it really does require some thought in how to complete the puzzles. There isn’t much of a story for the characters and there is no character development throughout the game. Personally, this is one of my all time favourite indie games and with the game being feature-rich it allows a bigger variety in puzzles and none are repeated in the game because of the different features in the game. However, I do think that later on there should have been multiple ways on completing a puzzle rather than just one way. This is one of those games where it has very little wrong with it and it is a game where you will never get bored of playing (if you enjoy puzzles). The use of both the PS4 pad and the PS Vita are both amazing and it uses every bit of these pads (PS Vita as a whole device) to their full potential such as gyroscopic control which isn’t seen in many games (when Lil is inflated this is used). Finally, it looks good with it’s sharp visuals and the art-work during loading screens actually make the loading time more aesthetically appeasing.