Being a relative of a legendary man, if you plan to do the same as he is, is not so easy. Everyone expects you to continue his work and replace him in case of death, but what if you want to develop in the other direction? The main character of The Artful Escape , Francis Vendetti, got into such a situation , whose emotional experiences lead him to a bizarre, phantasmagoric world of music, where it is easier for him to be himself.
You will leave fate
Francis is the nephew of the famous (and already deceased) Johnson Vendetti, the great folk musician who is known to all residents of the city of Calypso. A day later, the hero will have his first concert, and the importance of his family connection is so great that on the posters his image is much smaller than Johnson’s photo.
Everyone has bought tickets and are waiting for the new Vendetti.
The problem is that Francis doesn’t like performing folk. He is much more interested in picking up an electric guitar and jumping around the stage, rather than pretending to be Bob Dylan . At the same time, I don’t want to disappoint the audience that has already hung a label on it. In such an existential crisis, he remains until the night before the concert a strange creature Zomm-Hypnogog, “the messenger of fate and misfortune”, flies to him. The guest says that in a different dimension, a certain Captain Lightman has an artist sick, and invites Francis to help with the organization of the performances.
Here begins a series of events that look more like hallucinations. The hero changes into a fashionable suit, and an electric guitar materializes in his hands. It is worth starting to play on it – and the world around comes to life. Garlands light up, fish jump out of reservoirs, flowers bloom. In this fantasy, Francis does what he loves and becomes happier, although the constant thoughts of Calypso and the upcoming concert continue to visit him.
Finally, he is happy.
It turns out not the most original, but a powerful story about finding oneself, fear of failure and the difficulties of living in the shadow of another person. Similar topics were raised in the recent Chicory: A Colorful Tale , only here everything is closely related to music, not drawing. We quickly get to know that Lightman – he turns out to be a local star and along the way tries to help the hero understand himself. All lines are brilliantly voiced, but the actor who gave the voice to Lightman stands out especially – the character resembles the god played by Morgan Freeman from “Bruce the Almighty” .
I did not deceive.
Francis visits the worlds one by one, where his ability to play the electric guitar is revealed. Each concert is a riot of special effects, a vivid journey through absurd and fantastic, but so mesmerizing and breathtaking locations. From a snowy area with icy ground and aurora borealis to a desert with strange creatures, everything looks amazing. It becomes obvious why the development dragged on for more than six years – the artists tried to make each shot special.
All this is delightfully combined with music that makes magical journeys even more epic. Even if you are not into rock, it’s hard not to immerse yourself in the atmosphere when your short or long notes on the electric guitar fit perfectly into the soundtrack in the background. Moments it seems that this is exactly how Tetris Effect would look and play if it were a platformer – bright, picturesque and grandiose.
I want to take screenshots all the time.
Run to the sound of music
It’s a pity that such epithets are inapplicable to gameplay. The game often offers to move from one side to the other, sometimes forcing you to jump over obstacles, and platform elements are nothing special. It is difficult to perish here, there are no opponents, mistakes are not punished. Just hold the stick and run or slide down the slopes. At the same time, you can hold down the button responsible for the guitar – the character will play on the run, and the environment will begin to react to it.
Sometimes the hero meets majestic creatures, and a mini-game starts. Using the five buttons, you need to repeat the melody after your opponent. Wrong – try again without unnecessary downloads. It’s funny that button images don’t just appear on the screen – they are part of the creature: eyes, eyebrows, or symbols on the torso.
In dialogues, they often offer to choose lines, but this does not affect anything.
Everything is implemented well, and there are no complaints about the controls, but due to the gameplay the game becomes a little predictable and monotonous. On the one hand, you never know what kind of “trip” the protagonist will go through. On the other hand, you will probably have to run from left to right again, holding the button, and periodically participate in the same mini-games. Perhaps the pile-up of new mechanics and the development of existing ones would negatively affect the pace of The Artful Escape , however, in its current form, the gameplay is not ideal.
You don’t have to hold down the button that is responsible for playing the guitar, but then the show will not be so interesting.
The impression from this does not deteriorate, and after the final (the passage takes about four hours) I would like to recommend the game. Here a non-standard topic for the gaming industry is successfully revealed – although you can remember a lot of adventures about finding yourself, very rarely these are stories about a character who is in an existential crisis due to the need to continue someone else’s business. The Artful Escape says bluntly: there is no such need and it is better to be yourself – you just need to give free rein to imagination and not be afraid to be sincere.
Pros: an excellent story about finding yourself, in which the ending did not disappoint; insanely beautiful locations where breathtaking performances take place; a wonderful soundtrack, in which the chords played by the player are perfectly interwoven; great voiced characters.
Cons: Rustic gameplay adds an element of predictability to an unpredictable adventure.