Escape Plan (Vita) Review

Escape Plan is Sony’s way of providing an iOS-style experience on PlayStation Vita, and developer Fun Bits Interactive did exactly that. What you have is a fun, user-friendly and engaging journey through a black and white environment, where both experimentation and discovery go hand in hand. The result is yet another quality title for this already stacked handheld, one you should download.

The concept, like so many iPhone and iPad games, is easy to grasp. Two buddies seek to escape a prison of sorts, and it’s your job to make use of each character’s unique abilities to succeed.

The short skinny guy, Lil, receives a speed boost after drinking coffee, which proves effective in quickly zipping across platforms before they retract; Lil also has the ability to float, controlled using Vita’s gyroscope.

Lil’s counterpart, Laarg, literally throws his weight around. Yes, he’s much slower, but that’s fine since you’ll need his bulk to smash through objects.

To that end, each puzzle throws something unique into the equation, and it may take several minutes to have an “aha” moment. Case in point, pushing a brick into the foreground so Lil doesn’t trip or clogging up a hole with a finger to stop the flow of poisonous gas.

You do most of these things with Vita’s touch screen and rear touch pad, even going so far as to “pinch” both to release air from Lil, causing him to descend, or hitting the rear touch to push out a retractable bridge; conversely, you can press the touch screen to move it back. You’ll even tap on walls, Metal Gear Solid style, to distract enemies.

It’s just a cool experience that gets you thinking. Granted, the developers give you all the time in the world to figure puzzles out, though if you want the best score, completing stages as quickly as possible and with a minimal number of gestures is tantamount to receiving all three stars for each board.

There’s also the whole death issue. It’s in your best interest to keep Lil and Laarg alive, though if one or both croak, they wear that number (or more) on their midsections like some macabre badge of honor.

Meanwhile, the game keeps track of each move, both personal and worldwide, where you can connect to the Internet to see how many rooms people escaped, minions killed and Lil/Laarg deaths have taken place.

On the downside, and this is a minor complaint, it’s a bit tough playing comfortably, but only when we care about scoring all three stars. In a game that counts the number of gestures, we often hit the rear touch accidentally. Sony fans will hate us for saying this, but sometimes, we wish Escape Plan were on the iPad.

Finally, we noticed a troubling glitch where Lil, while floating, bumped into a ceiling and disappeared, forcing us to restart the puzzle. Not sure what caused this, and we hope Fun Bits can patch in a future update.

That aside, the game plays quite well on PlayStation Vita, and provides a welcome change of pace in comparison to the rest of the launch lineup, that for the most part involves more action-oriented fare. With this in mind, Escape Plan makes a wonderful addition to any Vita owner’s collection.

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