A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Way Out is a co-op action adventure game available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows. Two players team up, via either couch co-op or online, with each controlling one half of a duo looking to escape prison and find their freedom on the run. There's a lot of content in the game that would not be suitable for a younger audience. The game features numerous scenes of violence, including the deliberate and brutal torture of another human being. Characters make frequent use of profanity throughout their dialogue, as well as numerous smoking and alcohol references. The game also features some blunt sexual content, including male nudity in the prison and an extended sex scene that players can observe through a window after they've made their escape. While Leo and Vincent each have their own beliefs and even occasionally can take some positive, redeeming actions, neither character could be considered particularly "heroic"; rather, they're willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.
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What's it about?
A WAY OUT is a tale of two prisoners, Leo and Vincent, whose fates are irrevocably intertwined after they join in a common goal to escape prison, to reconnect with their loved ones, and to exact some good old-fashioned revenge on those responsible for their incarceration. The two strangers are forced to rely on each other if either has any hope of glimpsing the daylight of the outside world, and to trust one another if they have any hope of surviving their freedom. This is an interactive buddy film where the story depends on you. Players must work together in either local or online co-op play, honing their communication, planning their strategies, and synchronizing their timing, as the story plays out.
Is it any good?
It's a well-known fact that lots of things work better in pairs, like socks, shoes, scissors, and escaped prisoners. So maybe that last one isn't as well-known, but that doesn't make it any less true in A Way Out, a prison break buddy film wrapped around a co-op adventure game. Right off the bat, the first thing you'll learn is that there's no such thing as "single-player" here. You'll need a buddy that's willing to tag along for the six- to eight-hour ride in the gaming equivalent of a three-legged race. If you can't find someone to share a couch with, you can recruit a partner in crime from your online friend list. Thankfully, unlike most co-op games, you don't need to worry about the other person owning the title thanks to its "Friend Pass" system. After sending an invite, your co-op partner will be prompted to download a "demo" version of the game, which contains all of the content but doesn't allow that player to create a game of their own.
The real question is whether or not A Way Out is actually worth making that friendly commitment for. The answer: Absolutely. The game's cinematic presentation does an amazing job of making you (and your partner) feel like you're not just playing a game, but playing an active role in an action movie. It's particularly fun when one player's actions show in real time during the cutscene of the other player, or when a third scene plays out while both players are in the thick of things. There are a couple of minor problems with this movie-like plot development, though. The biggest issue is that the plot is much more linear than it seems. Players can occasionally choose different ways to overcome certain obstacles, like choosing stealth or charm over threats and violence. But it doesn't ever really matter which path you choose since you always wind up in the same place afterward. This also hurts the game's replay value. After all, it might seem interesting to see how events would play out if you went with Plan A instead of Plan B, but since nothing changes, there's not much reason to care unless you're a completionist. Still, like most good movies, A Way Out is at its absolute best the first time you experience it, with no idea what's coming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about adult themes in media. How are adult themes and content used in entertainment media like A Way Out? How do these more mature subjects offer a different perspective to storytelling, and how can these subjects be discussed with kids?
Talk about teamwork. What are some of the strengths offered by working with others to achieve your goals? What are the key elements needed to form an effective team (trust, communication, etc.)?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: March 23, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: M for Strong Language, Sexual Content, Blood, Nudity, Intense Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.