As a Vita launch title, Escape Plan was received fairly well for its sharp visuals and clever use of the Vita’s various functionalities.
Almost two years later, it makes its way to the PS4 as a cross-buy title, and while its control scheme has been tweaked to fit the platform, the experience remains mostly the same.
The story of Escape Plan begins and ends with the premise that Lil and Laarg want to escape from captivity. Why they are there in the first place or the identity of the dastardly villain who attempts to stop them with infernal traps is never truly explained, but that’s just as well because it really doesn’t matter.
The strength of a puzzle game lies in its game play mechanics and level design that forces a player to think outside the box in order to succeed.
While there aren’t too many different tools and mechanics at the player’s fingertips, the combination of how and when they are used more than make up for their lack of variety.
For example, one level would have the player navigate Lil and Laarg to the exit (as is the case with every stage) but along their path is a series of spinning blades that could make ink stains out of our two hopeful escapees. So, the player must stop the blades from spinning by pulling out an object from the background while keeping an eye on our two heroes so they don’t walk into the sharp edge of the blade like happy little lemmings.
While it’s simple to look at the layout of a level and know just exactly what to do, executing that plan properly is an entirely different matter as some require very precise timing.
Our two heroes also have individual “talents”, as Lil’s coffee addiction can make him dash short distances with great agility and Laarg’s power of being… fat, allows him to crash through wooden floors and barriers just by using his body.
These tools and more set the table for what’s available for the player to use and on the whole, all functions works well as the new tweaked control scheme does an admirable job of transitioning an almost all touch interface to a touch + controller setting.
While there are plenty of instances where the gyro and touchpad on the DS4 is used, the controls that require greater precision have been moved to the analog stick and buttons, which was the smart choice as opposed to using that tiny touchpad on the DS4 to control everything.
My only gripe with the controls was with having to toggle between controlling Lil and Laarg, as I often found myself not switching correctly between the two and walking one of them to their inky death. An option to control both at once would have been great as having to switch between the two to give individual commands to walk towards a direction and then have to switch back and forth just to give the command to stop felt awkward and unintuitive.
The other major issue I had with the title was the that in many of the levels, the solution was readily apparent without even having to think but the various actions required such precise timing that I was fumbling with the controls without really enjoying myself.
To me, I feel finding the solution is much more rewarding than actually putting it into action and having to redo a stage time and time again because of somewhat convoluted controls and overly tight timing requirements is not my idea of fun.
Even though each stage doesn’t last much longer than a minute, there is a great deal of levels to play through, and those players who become stuck on a particular stage are free to skip and go to the next one without any real penalty.
There are costumes to unlock and a great wealth of content in the DLC for those who feel the main campaign wasn’t enough to sate their puzzle hunger, but all in all, it’s a good value for the amount of content offered.
While it didn’t blow my mind or redefine just exactly what puzzle games meant to me, it was solid, albeit unspectacular puzzle experience that I’m sure the fans of the genre will enjoy.
Fun Tidbit: The game keeps count of how many times each of our heroes perish and there’s even challenges which ask that you don’t let them die even once (GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.)
Review copy of game provided by publisher.