Game Review: A Way Out

A Way Out is a strange game to grasp. On the surface, it’s an adventure game in the same vein as a Telltale game or Quantic Dreams. The plot is a paint by numbers 70’s crime drama. Not to say any of those things are bad, just not very memorable. What sets A Way Out apart is the decision to make the entire experience defined by co-op gameplay.
When I say co-op gameplay, I’m not talking about your run of the mill co-op. This isn’t a situation where single player is exactly the same as multiplayer except two Master Chiefs are running around. A Way Out is impossible to play without a partner and the game will make sure you remember this every chance that it gets.
The game follows two protagonists Vincent and Leo, two convicts who have wound up in prison and decide to team up, escape, and take revenge on a mutual enemy. There’s not much else to get into in terms of plot. It’s not very deep. To be honest though, I didn’t find this to be a bad thing. There was enough there to give the game a purpose, but the story is not the reason to play this game. Once again, for that we need to go back to the co-op.
It’s hard to explain just how devoted this game is to the concept of co-op gameplay with just words, but let me try. In one scenario the two “heroes” are chasing down a foreman through a construction zone. In the ten minute sequence both players trade off chasing the man down while the other overcomes an obstacle, one will control a crane while the other climbs over it, then the camera perspective will change to a top down perspective where the two players will have to communicate to orchestrate a pincer maneuver to trap their target in order to initiate a joint interrogation scene. Now this may seem like a set piece section right out of Uncharted, and in a way, it is. But remember, all of this is being done with two players operating independently with nothing in the game overtly communicating what needs to be done. All the communication has to happen between the player.
This right here is what makes the game so special. Never before have I seen a game that not only requires two players to speak and organize with each other but also do as little as possible to facilitate it. Other than voice chat, there’s no option to tap on walls, or set waypoints, or highlight objects. This is where the fun exists. Not so much in the game itself, but in cooperating with a partner to accomplish something in a setting that demands nothing less. This is where the emotional connection comes from, you don’t connect with the characters themselves but with the person who is inhabiting the avatar. Without realizing the game changes from a simple crime drama to a wholly personal experience with the person you’ve chosen to accompany through the 7-8 hour long plot.
All of the joy resides in the cooperative nature of the game, I can’t stress this enough, but it’s also the source of some issues. By hour two of the game, you’ve basically seen everything that the game has in terms of actual mechanics. After that it’s essentially the same actions just in a new scenario with a couple of one-off moments to spice it up. Also, it becomes very easy to see the contrivances in place to facilitate a cooperative approach to a problem. Even though the enjoyment exists so much outside the game itself, seeing the man behind the curtain still isn’t fun.
Technically, the game is just fine. The graphics aren’t stunning by any means, but seem perfectly adequate for the price. I didn’t encounter any glaring glitches during my play though but there have been some reports of bugs, so keep that in mind I guess.
I know it’s early in the year and I will probably have to eat some crow here, but for my money A Way Out is one of the best gaming experiences to be had this year. Just make sure you find yourself a good partner and make sure your tapping finger is strong.

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Bali And My Attempts To Destroy It

I don’t lead a very exciting life. There’s really no way around that. This fact is the reason I try so hard, desperately at times, to find any nugget of inspiration I can find in what I believe most would call the mundane. But sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by an abundance of things that could each change my core on their and leave me a quivering mess of a human if taken as a whole. This phenomenon often has the effect of making me retreat inward to the safety of my own perceptions of myself, just to see if they’ve changed in a new setting. 

What follows is a collection of journal entries I wrote while on vacation in Bali.  These were written often in alternating states of dread and euphoria  and with varying influences of caffeine and alcohol. They are stream of conscious missives of a man lost in himself while being so incredibly certain of where he was on a map.  Continue reading

Help Us Do A Charity Stream

Hey everyone, sorry that things have been a little quiet here, I assure you that the show is very much alive. In fact, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about today. Since we transitioned the show into a live streaming talk show we’ve been able to gauge our viewership and popularity more accurately. […]

via Help Us Do A Charity Stream — Those Aren’t Biscuits

Finding My Own Destiny

I’ve been guilty of many things in my life. I have lied, cheated, stole, all in the same day sometimes. One thing though, that I’ve always tried to keep my hands clean of was buying into hype. But as hard as I’ve tried, there have been a few occasions that I have fallen prey to that specific temptation.

The surest way to pull me into hype is bold promises of adventure. Vivid paintings of space epics and conflict of the grandest sort will hook me and pull me under. This is what Destiny did to me. It was impressive with how quickly they sold me on their 10 year vision. Especially when you consider the fact that I was actually pretty late to the party. The first I had heard of Destiny was in a recap video for the E3 prior to the game’s release. All it took was those few months to convince me to drop my money down day 1.

Continue reading

Oh Look, More Poetry

Graciously, There Are No More Holy Lands

Pillars held the sanctuary high
eight of them in the beginning
Strong and resilient and reliant on themselves
but grateful for the company

and the prayers inside the hallowed walls
were offered up to ancient gods
of innocent chaos
and pubescent fury

And like all things that are predicted
they all met their various inevitable conclusions

One by one in their own time

Some broke down into crystal quartz
and became the playthings of children
some into soft sand
for lovers to lay on

and a couple held their form
as best as they could
and eventually became ruins
for only the eldest to whisper within

“If you had only seen them when.”

Please God, Play It Slow

I learned something about the blues
something I think I was always supposed to know
you never know you’re playing them
until you’re nostalgic enough to write a song

To us, it was just humid August nights
driving as fast as we could for a just a breeze
looking to add more heat to our skin
or a way to forget the month

I think if I had been listening
I could’ve heard a guitar
as we fished the muddy waters
or a harmonica as the lightning hopped out of the clouds

But as far as we knew

the only music
was the silent tune of American Melancholy
and we had sold our souls to it
so how could we have known the songs we were missing?

My Shoulder Will Not Be Cried Upon, Not Tonight

The sun has gone away, far away
and along with it’s rays, my sensitivity
In this darkness I think I prefer you shattered
I am not concerned that you’re wounded

I couldn’t give a damn for your cries for help

In the morning I swear to you,
I’ll curse the waters that are pulling you under
I’ll hold you upright
I’ll keep your motion forward

But tonight

Tonight

Just lay yourself upon me
and compete against the howling beasts
there’s a wild constellation above us
and these heartfelt talks have become too civil

Thrash, shake, and writhe
we can be the demons in the absence of light

and tomorrow

tomorrow

the sincerest mending can begin again.

I Don’t Think I Can Do It Again

I don’t think I will ever go to another Third Eye Blind concert. Not because the night I spent in Chicago listening to them was a bad experience mind you, it was exactly the opposite actually. The few hours I spent soaking up the Lake Michigan breeze and absorbing the heat from the others in the crowd were magical, in the way only music in the summer can be. The reason I can’t see myself attending another show is because I simply won’t have anything to offer in return the way I did that night. Continue reading

I Still Write Poems Sometimes

Every Door Is A Pearly Gate At 9 o’clock

I prayed to god the other night,
simply to thank him
thank him that he made me a non-believer
’cause I don’t think I could handle
the balance between damnation and paradise
with her name in my head

It wasn’t always like this
I didn’t always
have to rely on sex, sad songs,
wine and blank walls to help me
figure it all out
there used to be salvation somewhere
But I think its found a better home
somewhere in that rectangle

I refuse to say I’m lost
because you’d find me if I did,
god, you were always better at finding things.

Open Mic With Only A One Person Audience

The radiator banged and wailed
like anyone that age has a right to
but the man played on,
like anyone that age is likely to do.

He played songs that weren’t his
but no one could dare to steal
the ghosts that came with them
and the specters brought
brought their own chains to give
that cast iron heater a run for its money
I’m sure somewhere
in the mess, an angelic chorus
lead by a drunken balladeer
peeked in on the revelry and offered up a whisper

In fact, the only spirit
that failed to show was hers
She used to always be there
enduring all the fights
now her void will haunt me.