In a world where triple-A games receive the most attention, even when they’re broken and difficult to play, it’s often indie games that offer the most creativity and bang for one’s buck. This is especially true of Annapurna Interactive’s The Artful Escape, which is now available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, after originally only being released onto Xbox and Steam.
Developed by Beethoven & Dinosaur, The Artful Escape is a wondrous and unforgettable experience that is unlike almost anything else. It’s this uniqueness and oozing spirit that makes it an absolute must play, as well as one of the standout releases of the last year.
This interactive narrative centres on a young, musical, prodigy named Francis Vendetti. A resident of Calypso, Colorado, he’s the heir apparent to his uncle’s vacated (and very musical) throne. In fact, he’s scheduled to play at a festival marking the anniversary of his uncle’s most popular album. All he needs to do is get over his nerves, figure out what he’s going to play and rock their socks off.
As it turns out, the universe has something else in mind for young Francis and his guitar. Not long after speaking with a mysterious woman, who asks him to take risks, he finds himself being abducted by aliens and taken to a strange galaxy. There, he’s offered the chance to open on an intergalactic tour, in support of a mysterious being named Lightman. He will need to rise to fame, fulfill this duty and put on a killer show in order to get back home.
This strange and wholly unique plot drives a game that is far from typical. In fact, The Artful Escape is hardly the platformer it’s billed as being. Instead, it’s more of an interactive experience, and one in which simple input patterns are used to perform guitar solos, complete musical duels and perhaps even achieve stardom.
As you run, slide and jump through colourful, zany and original environments, you’ll use Francis’ guitar to make noise, create music and affect the world around you. Don’t expect a lot in terms of gameplay, though. Simply buckle in and enjoy the ride, doing what’s asked of you at the time, be it memorizing patterns to win duels or talking to strange creatures.
I’ve kind of already said this, but there’s simply nothing like this game. It’s incredibly original, and so very memorable. Not only that, but it’s got one of the most unique art styles in recent memory. Thus, it’s not only a treat for the ears (thanks to some good music and quality sound design), but the eyes as well.
If you haven’t played it already, make sure to check out The Artful Escape, on whichever platform suits you best. This is a game that you won’t soon forget, and one that you certainly don’t want to sleep on. It’s beautiful, wonderful, psychedelic, original, accessible and amazing.
**We were provided with a review code for the PlayStation 5 version, but also checked the game out on Xbox via Game Pass.**
- Wholly original
- Great music and memorable visuals
- Lots of heart
- More interactive narrative than game
- The platforming is a bit stilted at times
- Obviously won't be for everyone