Format: PS Vita (via PSN Store)
Developer: Fun Bits Interactive
The whimsical exploits of Lil and Laarg, the unwitting heroes of Escape Plan, are amongst the most endearing of any of Vita’s launch titles. With an artistic vibe straight out of a Tim Burton animation and a classical orchestral score to match, their’s is a puzzle game in which clever use of the systems front and rear touchscreen is both decently implemented and of genuine enhancement to the gameplay.
Waking in a cell – or rather being forcibly woken by the persistent tapping of the player – Lil is the first to embark on her (its?) escape. By the use of touch stimulus only, the idea is to guide Lil – and later Laarg, either individually or simultaneously – through a series of stages, your performance judged out of three stars based upon the number of interactions and time taken to reach the exit.
Steering the mute duo through stages is, at first, as simple as dragging across their bodies in the direction you’d like them to move, before tapping upon them again to have them halt. Soon however props – such as helium pumps and coffee machines – and obstacles – such as poisonous gas leaks and disappearing platforms – will have you frantically juggling your charges while keeping a constant check on their environment.
One of the games most original touches is that the number of deaths each character has suffered is emblazoned across their chests, a constant reminder of both your failures, and in turn, eventual triumphs. Cleverly, there are even challenge modes which set a certain number of allowable deaths for their completion, so ensuring that keeping each alive is bestowed even greater importance.
Perhaps our keenest felt criticism of Escape Plan lies in this constant battle to keep Lil and Large alive however, not because we fear a challenge, but because the nature of the controls can occasionally lead to frustration. Picture trying to press areas of both the front and back touchscreens while moving the analogue stick to move the camera, all while trying not to drop your valuable new console and you might begin to see what we mean.
That said the crisp, clear black and white visuals, the fiendish puzzles, the sheep (you’ll know what we mean when you play it) and the whole creativity of the venture ultimately keeps you coming back, risk of damage to your precious Vita or not, and for the price we can forgive the relatively short play-through time.