I think it’s fair to suggest that Hazelight Studios don’t do things by halves and it shows in the quality of their two award-winning co-op games released to date – A Way Out and It Takes Two. Focusing on their debut title though, A Way Out, which landed on March 23rd, 2018 for various platforms, it’s a fantastic and innovative co-op experience. In fact, given the premise, A Way Out is perhaps the best bromance co-op game out there, and here’s why…
The beauty of the Friends Pass
Let’s be honest, half the trouble for any and all co-op multiplayer games is finding a buddy that also owns a particular title, in order to enjoy the experience together. Alas, many titles fail for this reason alone.
While couch action is possible, A Way Out eradicated such problems for online split-screen with the introduction of the ‘Friends Pass’. Essentially, this feature allowed a person who purchased a copy of the game to invite a friend to play at no additional cost to them. Better yet, there’s no limit on the number of different partners you could bring in, so there’s no worries about picking just the one.
Still, those chosen undoubtedly feel special being given a free ride and the Friends Pass is a fine idea to get more eyes on the product from day one.
Chilling with the mini-games
Breaking out of prison and then going on the run – like Michael and Lincoln in Prison Break – is pretty stressful. Sometimes you just need to take a moment and relax with your fugitive buddy to reflect on everything. Fortunately, a healthy selection of mini-games present here will enable you to have that all-important downtime.
There’s nothing better than shooting a few hoops with your homie, hitting homers in the rough part of town, attempting to fish using basic resources, or throwing arrows at a dartboard. Too physical and sporty for you? No problem. A competitive Row of Four (a Connect Four clone) battle, an instrument riff off, and pulling the best wheelies in a hospital corridor, might be more your kind of activities.
Whichever you and a friend decide to partake in, the mini-games are a nice change of pace and some welcome distractions.
A reliance on teamwork
You might think it doesn’t matter who you team up with in A Way Out, but that’s not the case and I soon realised there can be no passengers here. Both players must pull their weight as the dynamic duo of Leo and Vincent.
It’s quite clever how certain sections put real onus on teamwork. One such setup sees one player being the eyes to keep watch while the other performs a task that could land them both in trouble, if caught in the act. There’s another part – now rather iconic – that has the two characters climbing vertically back-to-back. Timing is crucial to success and I remember acing it, while my co-op partner dragged me down consistently. Sure, there was tension in the air initially, however the pure joy upon finding a technique to achieve our goal was immeasurable.
Bonds are made, or broken, by situations like these.
Never a dull moment
It’s easy to get bored sticking with the same game for hours and hours, but A Way Out seldom lets you get comfortable enough to feel that way towards the gameplay, nor the setting.
Everything moves at a great pace where the gameplay is concerned. I’ve already covered some of the variety, yet there’s tons more including stealth elements and a fantastic set piece involving a chase around a construction site. It never stops throwing up surprises; at one point, it’s like you’re in a side-scrolling beat ‘em up and elsewhere you might be involved in a shootout.
You’re not stuck in a single location either. You and your partner embark upon an adventure that begins in a prison, but breaks out into farmlands, the inner city, an island, and more. The environments keep things fresh and it’s a trip to remember for so many reasons.
An emotional and cinematic narrative
Alright, I admit it straight off the bat, A Way Out is a slow-burner in relation to the protagonists building a genuine friendship and the narrative unfolding, but my god the climax makes it all worthwhile.
The cinematic style cutscenes and the top tier acting are convincing enough to believe you’re watching a Scorsese film at times. The drip fed morsels of Leo and Vincent’s pasts, combined with the ongoing escape, set the stage for a phenomenal final stage which will stir up all kinds of emotions. You become so attached to the character you’re controlling that the big revelations really hit hard.
Expect to have laughed, bickered, and potentially shed a tear with your new bestie by the end of it.
So, there it is – 5 reasons why A Way Out is one of the best bromance co-op games ever, some five years after its release.
What do you remember fondly from your experience with A Way Out? Do you believe it deserves all the praise it’s given? Did it make or break a friendship for you? Let us know via the comments section below.
A Way Out is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store. It’s also on PlayStation and PC.