Review – The Artful Escape

The Artful Escape is a point and click game that combines the best of both worlds, offering an escape-the-room style game with a captivating story.

The the artful escape controversy is a game that has been released for the Nintendo Switch. It is a puzzle-adventure game where players must use their wits to solve puzzles and escape from a mysterious mansion.

During Microsoft’s E3 2017 presentation, the Artful Escape was revealed four years ago. It’s been four years! I can’t believe how long it took Beethoven & Dinosaur and Annapurna Interactive (a publisher with whom I still have mixed emotions in terms of their catalog) to complete their musical masterpiece. I’ve been anticipating this game since it was announced, despite the fact that I had no clue how it would play or what it would be about (apart from the protagonist wielding a hologram guitar, of course). What we got instead was something unexpected but as wonderful.

Play the game “Free Bird”!!

You play as Francis Vendetti, a folk musician, in The Artful Escape. He’s a gifted musician, a youngster who truly understands how to play his instrument, but being the nephew of Bob Dylan Johnson Vendetti, the world’s most renowned folk singer, compels him to live in the shadow of his famous dead uncle. People want him to follow in his footsteps, to be nothing more than a renowned guy’s nephew, and not to be himself. Francis wants to play solos, compose rock operas, and make his own version of “Space Oddity,” among other things. He is approached by a strange person named Lightman on the eve of a festival performance, and begins on a trippy-as-balls voyage of self-discovery across the universe.

The Artful Escape is a story-based adventure at heart, but unlike other pompous Annapurna films like What Remains of Edith Finch, Gone Home, and the obscene 12 Minutes, it seems modest. It’s appealing. Above all else, this is a trip to discover who you are and what you want to accomplish with your life. It’s for anybody who’s ever experienced an identity crisis, particularly those around the age of twenty-five, who are finally obtaining freedom but still uncertain of who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Beethoven & Dinosaur’s creators just so happened to combine such a wonderful message with a psychedelic sci-fi narrative, some of the greatest graphics and music in recent memory, plus some platforming and rhythm-based gameplay to liven things up a little.

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I’d say it’s more of a King Crimson cover, but I get what you’re getting at.

There’s no disputing that The Artful Escape is one of those “art games” where the narrative and presentation are more important than the gameplay. It stands out from the rest of the pompous crowd because its gameplay, as simple as it is, complements its presentation. The game’s ultra-colorful and imaginative psychedelic graphics and Bowie/Queen inspired music are linked to everything you do in terms of direct interaction.

The Artful Escape has three types of gameplay portions: pseudo-explorative strolling parts with plenty of conversation, music-driven platforming gauntlets, and Simon Says rhythm challenges. In the first part, you must either speak to a large number of NPCs or press context-sensitive buttons to have Francis give a few monologues about his birthplace or inner emotions. These parts aren’t very interesting, and their only purpose is to slam you with exposition.

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Give me one opportunity to knock you off your feet…

Platforming portions reminded me a lot of the musical stages in Rayman Legends, although more simpler and centered on pushing you to solo a song by holding down the X button rather than jumping to the sound of it. When you go about soloing, the environment generally reacts to your shredding, providing you with even more visual candy. Don’t forget that the solos and songs performed throughout these parts are all unique creations, and they’re all fantastic.

Finally, these rhythm-based portions resemble Simon Says rather than Guitar Hero. You won’t be bombarded with notes to play in rapid succession. Instead, you’ll encounter a figure whose face is always adorned with five symbols that look like the X, Y, B, LB, and RB buttons. They’ll flash one after the other, and all you have to do is follow the patterns to play a solo with these characters, all while being rewarded with lovely melodies and stunning visual effects.

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Man, it’s all about the music…

The only issue I have with this focus on soloing is when the game allows you to perform some freestyle improvs with the scales available to you, which typically happens during autorun portions. I have no objections to these mini-games. In fact, I was pleased to see them included, however the way the figures are animated causes a small delay in input everytime you hit a note. That implies it’ll be difficult to play your solo while listening to the basic tune, and it’ll be tough to shred fast. Most people won’t be bothered, but certain music fans will be dismayed by this setback.

The Artful Escape’s soundtrack is fantastic, but it’s not the only thing the game’s sound design has going for it. In typical Annapurna style, the game has cameos by well-known Hollywood actors including Lena Headey, Jason Schwartzman, Mark Strong, and even Carl Weathers, who gives one of his finest performances in recent memory. However, it is Teen Wolf’s Michael Johnston who steals the show as the dreamy, but timid and insecure Francis Vendetti.

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Sigh… Here’s Wonderwall, in any case.

The Artful Escape is more than simply a huge cinematic journey; it also has a surprisingly relevant tale and a sprinkling of rhythm-based and platforming gameplay that aid in the development of the overall narrative with little effort. It may not be a game for everyone, given that it lacks any semblance of difficulty and its themes are primarily aimed at music fans and/or the Wes Anderson crowd, but it delivers its message so well that I can’t bring myself to criticize it when it tries to be a little more pretentious than it should be. If I could, I’d give it a “Bill & Ted air guitar riff out of ten” rating.

 

A visual feast like few other games have ever attempted. The game is essentially one huge psychedelic trip.

With minute platforming and rhythm-based portions, the whole game focuses upon enhancing the game’s overall audiovisual attractiveness. While they aren’t very difficult, they are well-integrated into the narrative. Some of the rhythm parts had some input latency, which lowered the quality of the song you were creating.

It’s all about the music at The Artful Escape, dude. The whole game is filled with amazing guitar solos and arrangements. Big stars like Carl Weathers and Lena Headey give great performances in the voice acting department.

The Artful Escape is mainly a musical and visual experience, but it also has a surprisingly well-written and sympathetic narrative, memorable characters, and rhythm and platforming portions that were much more fascinating than they ought to be.

Final Score: 9.0

On Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC, The Artful Escape is currently available.

On the Xbox Series S, the game was reviewed.

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The the artful escape ios is a puzzle game. It was released on the iOS App Store, and has been well received by players.

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