The Average Gamer

Escape Plan Review (Vita)

Escape Plan has been my most anticipated game for the Vita. The stylish grayscale presentation and great use of the Vita’s touch screens offered something which I hadn’t experienced since the days of Lemmings and Abe’s Oddysee. Sitting down with the full release of the game, my expectations have been more than met. While there are definitely some issues with the game, they aren’t enough to spoil an overall must-buy.

This launch title for the PlayStation Vita tells the tale of Lil and Laarg, two comical characters trapped in a strange place thanks to the evil Bakuki, and must escape. Using the Vita’s front and back-touch controls, you must guide your heroes through a series puzzles, avoiding different threats like spinning blades and noxious gas.

The game is presented in gorgeous grayscale,and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments in both the cut-scenes and gameplay. The soundtrack is equally great, from the wonderful classical soundtrack to the satisfying squelches of Lil and Laarg’s insides as they are splattered across the level upon death. A neat little addition is the death-counter on both characters’ bellies. There’s also an option to skip a level should you die multiple times but if you are stubborn like myself, this will seem like an insult.

Every gesture you perform is counted towards your end of level score; the fewer gestures you use and the quicker you are, the more stars you get. Here lie some of the game’s problems. The more complicated levels have you feeling like you’re playing hand-twister. The incredibly sensitive touch controls can tot up gestures accidentally as you try to clog a pipe, move an elevator, move both characters and move some platforms. Expect to take frequent breaks to prevent serious hand-cramp.

Escape Plan forces you to hold the Vita in some absurd grips, which would probably be impractical on a busy train if that’s where you play your handheld consoles. For right-handed people, there’s the additional problem that the go-to grip while playing Escape Plan has you placing your finger precariously over the power button. On more than a few occasions I locked the screen at an important point of the puzzle, leading to some inappropriate language aimed at the Vita, Lil, Laarg, and society in general.

Sometimes your gestures will not register with the object you’re trying to interact with but still affect your score, which can be very frustrating when you’re trying to get three stars. The ability to replay a level after completing it, or move on to the next one, helps alleviate the issue a little, but it’s still a problem.

The great variety in level design keeps things interesting across the 3-5 hour campaign. After your first playthrough there’s a challenge mode which requires you to die no more than 20 times between Lil and Laarg. For context, I died around 90 times on my first time round.

Escape Plan is a unique and charming game that offers a genuine challenge. I loved my time with the game, and for only £10, this is an essential purchase for all Vita owners, especially puzzle fans.

Escape Plan is downloadable for the PS Vita now.

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