It’s unfortunately been too long since I’ve asked if a game is this year’s Game of The Year. I can confidently say that I’m back and that I fully expect this series to be back on a regular basis. For those unaware, the way this series works is after I review a game, I decide to where it goes on my top 10 board. The board is ever changing. Something that’s considered my 5th best game of the year today, might not even be on the board by the end of the year. Now that I’ve explained what’s going on, let’s ask the question, is A Way Out the game of the year?
As my find myself sitting inside a plane, preparing to send my friend an invite to the game so that we could finish the final few chapters of the game, I found myself thinking back to everything the game had put before us. I thought about the unique story-telling device. A co-op only story where almost all of the game is told through split-screen is something I’ve always wanted from a game. Were there some road bumps along the way, absolutely, but having a friend there to laugh and joke around with while experiencing everything the game had to offer made any issues seem trivial. It didn’t matter that one the voice actors sounded like he was getting more and more drunk as the game neared the end because it gave us something to joke about. It’s like watching a fun, cheesy action movie. No one is watching Tango and Cash and discussing the cinematography, they’re discussing how awesome the fight in the boiler room was.
And after my friend accepted the invite and we waited for the game to load, we found ourselves discussing some of the more ridiculous moments in the game: playing connect-four, sitting on a swing together, that time we jammed out on the piano after we robbed that elderly couple, and of course, for us, the now infamous arm-wrestling mini-game. We laughed about how we probably could have finished this game in half the time, but aimlessly wandering around every room in hopes of finding something new to goof off with was something we weren’t going to miss. Did it make sense with the story that the game was trying to tell? Of course not! Why would two grown men on the run from the police, stop and play an arcade game that they found in the corner of a room, but once again, having that co-op element made things like that trivial. Who cares if it doesn’t fit with the story, it’s fun.
And once the game loaded and we made our through the finale, we laughed the whole way through. Watching the game turn from a simple puzzle, sometimes stealth game to suddenly becoming the reincarnation of Army of Two was simply amazing. Hours earlier the game had me playing stickball in a trailer park and now here I am flanking Mexican drug criminals with my friend. It was a tonal shift that could have easily hurt the game and really not fit with what’s going but by the time we arrived at this point in the game, we were more than happy to murder all the bad guys.
To our surprise though, (no spoilers, I promise) the game continued on. What we thought was the ending was then met with something that took this game from being a fun time that I didn’t regret at all, to a game that I’m going to be talking about at the end of the year. The 2nd finale of A Way Out is intense, shocking, and simply put, heartbreaking. It somehow managed to tie every little story complaint my friend and I had about the game together and have it make sense.
For those unaware, A Way out was made by Josef Fares, the man responsible for the indie classic Brothers. There was a lot riding on this game as Fares has been in the news a lot hyping up just how amazing he thinks A Way Out is. If the game had come out and failed, that could have easily been the end of Fares as someone who is allowed screen time to talk about his games. Thankfully, A Way Out does anything but fail. It’s a really fun game that will keep you and your friend glued to the screen. While it’s far from perfect, what it does right more than makes up for its flaws. I’m personally shocked at where this game is going to end up on the Game of The Year list considering that early on into playing the game it did have some issues. It really is just a testament to how good the game is as it nears the end. Also, before I go, I just want to say thank you to Secret Thoughter M. He was my partner in crime (literally) and I wouldn’t have been able to (literally… again) review this game without him.
8.5 (Really, Really, Really Good)