Features & News
Hands On: Escape Plan (PS Vita)
December 8, 2011, Author: Diogo Miguel
It’s always ironic how the games that make the most efficient use of a system’s capabilities are the ones that end up being ignored. This is the case with Escape Plan, which is a video-game that focuses solely on touch based controls. The game’s basic premise is that the mute character needs to escape and needs the player’s help to do so.
The game consists of rooms filled with challenges for the player to complete. Some of them are there to ease the player in, but the real fun starts when it’s possible to fail a challenge.
The game is controlled simply, using a finger swipes to move the character around. This is the command that players will be using most of the time, and it’s necessary to use it carefully, as some of the traps you’ll encounter in later levels require it. Fortunately, the game is able to provide players with precise movements, and merely tapping the character will instantly stop them; extremely handy when facing challenges such as moving platforms.
The use of the touchscreen gets extended to other functions, such as interacting with the environment. The player must manipulate objects in the level so the character can continue moving forward. It’s all very simple at first but soon becomes challenging, and it’s highly satisfying to succeed once it does.
The puzzle-like nature becomes even more interesting once the game starts to make use of the PlayStation Vita’s back touchpad. With this, it’s possible to move a platform forward so the character can safely get to the other end of the level. Touching the character on the back and front will make it run in a funny fashion. It’s small touches like this that made what I played such an enjoyable experience, and it’s the sort of reason that touchscreen gaming became so popular. It is truly inspiring to play Escape Plan and think of what other users the Vita touchscreen will have further down the line.
There was one level in the demo where the player has to run over a timed bridge, and that was a stellar example of how well all the different controls work together. What’s great too is that each challenge has a score, which means that players can try to improve their high scores, and see who is the best at each challenge level.
Escape Plan shows that games don’t need to go all out when it comes to visuals. The visual style of the game is best described as ‘minimalist’. There’s very little use of colour, with the theme utilising different shades of black and white, representing that feeling of being locked in a prison. It’s a style that’ll make it really stand out come the game’s launch. It also makes it far easier to see the various parts of the level that require player interaction.
Another great aspect of the game is that it’s easy to see what is going on due to the wide Vita screen. It’s often the case that the whole level gets displayed on-screen, which is handy for tricky situations.
Escape Plan is one of the games on the Vita that is making effective use of the unique touch screen capabilities. The cleverly disguised puzzle sequences played so far, certainly made for an interesting experience and I’m really eager to see more. More content like this could make it an escape that prospective Playstation Vita owners won’t want to miss out on.