Being a good friend can be taxing, but is very rewarding in the end. Whether it’s helping them through relationship issues or saving them from captivity, you can make a world of difference in someone’s life. Escape Plan for Sony’s new Playstation Vita is a testament to the importance of friendship and quick reflexes, but mostly friendship.
The story unfolds with characters Lil and Laarg are being held captive by the diabolical Bakuki. What narrative there is plays out through still images. The story really isn’t the main aspect of Escape Plan, but there are some adorable moments. I found Escape Plan to be pretty charming, and heart-warming. In a gaming world of death and destruction, it is refreshing to have a feel-good game.
Escape Plan’s gameplay serves a major purpose: it showcases the Vita’s touch capabilities. Almost everything is done via touch screen, save for camera controls. You control Lil and Laarg, sometimes separately, sometimes together. In order to get them to walk, you swipe across them in the direction they need to move. Occasionally, the game requires you to pinch the front screen and back panel, such as when Lil has a bit of coffee and needs to scoot quickly, or he sucks on some helium and needs some released in a flatulent manner. The controls are pretty intuitive, although I would sometimes find myself hitting the back touch panel on accident, and occasionally with hazardous results. But that’s more due to the system’s design, so I can’t really fault the developers.
Each stage is broken up into several rooms. Each room is a puzzle in itself and most everything can be deadly. The puzzles can be challenging, but they are never frustrating. It takes careful timing to make sure Lil and Laarg don’t fall too far without a platform, or get hit by spinning fan blades. The environment is just as deadly as the enemies. Escape Plan is great for short bursts of play, as well as longer sessions. It barely takes a minute to clear a room. The challenge lies in getting through a room quickly and with as few moves as possible.
You are ranked on a scale of three stars, and your total deaths with each character are tallied on the numbers on their chests. Mine totaled around 70 for Lil and 50 for Laarg. As a side note — I missed this until late in the game — there are different signs hidden throughout the rooms that you can collect.
What I enjoyed most about Escape Plan was the style. Lil and Laarg aren’t overly detailed, but they are lovable. The enemies scattered throughout the rooms look like Shy Guys from the Mario games, but they definitely have more personality. The black and white visuals are gorgeous on the Vita’s OLED screen. Each object really pops. The death splats and fart noises are hilarious. Escape Plan’s soundtrack is also phenomenal. The classical tracks really add to the game’s charming personality. There’s also an awesome rendition of “Lean On Me” at the end of the game that got me singing along.
All in all, I really enjoyed Escape Plan. My only real gripe is the price tag. $15 may be a little steep for some people, especially after having dropped $250-$300 on the Vita itself. It’s also only available on the Playstation Store. However, if you’re looking for a way to show off your new Vita to friends and family, Escape Plan is the right game. It is a charming puzzle game that anyone can enjoy and a refreshing break from the multitude of “blockbuster” releases that seem to pop up every other week.
-Good showcase of the Playstation Vita’s controls
-$15 price tag might be a bit steep for some
-It’s over too quickly