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Escape Plan (PS Vita) Review

/ Jun 5th, 2012 No Comments

Escape Plan

Escape Plan (PS Vita) Review

Escape Plan (PS Vita) Review

Escape Plan is a PSN game developed exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation Vita. The minds behind the game, developer Fun Bits Interactive, share ties to the PSN game Fat Princess. Fun Bits worked on the Fat Roles add-on for the game that featured the titular princess acting as a quarter-ton version of capture the flag. Escape Plan shares the similar vibrancy and charm as Fat Princess, even if it eschews the overly cutesy hand-drawn graphics and bold color palate for a monochromatic swath of blacks, whites and grays. At its heart, there is still an endearingly adorable touch to the look of Escape Plan even if it explodes in blasts of ink the moment either Lil or Laarg dies. Much like many of the games for iOS, Escape Plan makes good use of levels that allow for quick plays on the fly. To be honest, Escape Plan feels like an iOS game that mainlines energy drinks into its veins and eats bloody steaks soaked in human growth hormones.

The story side of Escape Plan revolves around a simple premise. The game’s antagonist/villain Bakuki imprisons the main characters, Lil and Laarg and they must escape Bakuki’s evil clutches. It is a decidedly retro styling for the story where the player must get the characters from condition A (imprisonment) to condition B (freedom). Lil and Laarg’s freedom certainly does not come easily; Bakuki bars their paths to freedom with inventive challenges and roadblocks. All of it is very much reminiscent of Toad telling Mario that the princess is in another castle.

Escape Plan

Escape Plan

With the earlier comparison to the many iOS games on the market, Escape Plan’s structure has similar elements in common with the weird cultural zeitgeist, Angry Birds. Escape Plan is broken down into different portions of levels similar to Angry Bird’s episodic format. The sections of Escape Plan feature cut scenes like Angry Birds to move the (admittedly more robust) narrative forward. The innovative use of the PS Vita’s two touch screens to solve puzzles is an obvious comparison between the two games, if not a weak one. Much like Angry Birds where each of the birds have a bit of a personality and special purpose; Escape Plan’s Lil and Laarg are imbued with much of their own personality and own game mechanics that make switching between them compelling and rewarding to figure out how to take advantage of each character’s idiosyncrasies. If tablets, touch screens, the ubiquity of cell phones and casual games stand as coming executioner of traditional gaming then games like Escape Plan and the Vita’s embrace of new technology make a good shield against the guillotine of games designed to for bus rides and work breaks.

The gameplay of Escape Plan takes full advantage of the PS Vita’s two-touch screens and motion control making the game a nice showcase for the features. The player moves, changes direction and stops Lil/Laarg by touching the front touch screen. In addition, the player interacts with objects by using the front touch. The back touch screen’s mechanics are clever as the player can distract and lead enemies or sheep to various spots in order to kill/trigger mechanisms. The PS Vita features the most responsive touch screens out there, but even so, sometimes while playing Escape Plan some added precision could have prevent a frustrating death. Even with that said, poking, swiping and twirling Lil/Laarg or objects on the screen is a delight. When the game adds air elements to the puzzles, the player moves by using the PS Vita’s motion sense to reach the end of the level, smart tilting of the Vita is the key. The puzzles themselves, which compromise the level, vary between easy (sliding Lil out of a prison cell) to frustrating (triggering a mechanism to move out a panel to walk Laarg along to the goal while stopping a giant metal girder from crushing him). The difficult levels are the most rewarding once the player figures them out. Most of the time it is a simple solution to solve the level and that solution often leaves the player with a begrudging feeling because they did not figure it out sooner.

Escape Plan - PS Vita

Escape Plan - PS Vita

The soundtrack for Escape Plan varies between whimsical jazzy to dour orchestral scores while the sound effects are crisp and vibrant. An industrial feel comprises the majority of Escape Plan’s levels and compliments the prison complex setting well. In between levels hand drawn animated cut scenes move the story along with a simple narration overlaid. The cut scenes are gorgeous in a hand drawn way and harkens to early PSP games. Levels breakdown into sections and the original version of the game features eight sections. In terms of game play hours, Escape Plan is about six to eight, but as with most games that varies depending on skill level. However, recently Fun Bits Interactive released a patch with the free DLC of Bakuki’s Lair, which adds about an hour or so to the game. The question it comes down to, is this game worth buying? It is. The PS Vita is a solid handheld, but there is not much in the way of game selection.

Escape Plan is a solid game that makes good use of the transitory nature of handheld gaming by letting you play a level or two on the fly. It is a well made game, while pricey (at $14.99 on the PSN) it has plenty of charm and is very fun, which is what games are suppose to be.

Overall Ratings – Escape Plan (PS Vita)

Gameplay:

9/10

Graphics:

8/10

Sound:

8/10

Replayability:

8/10

OVERALL SCORE:

83%

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Associate Editor/Editorial Lead at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. Currently, he lives in Tustin, California. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs

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