The Artful Escape is basically a 4-5 hour movie that gives you little side scrolling platforming sections and a few music, rhythm-style segments that are stand-ins for boss fights.
And right off the bat, the first thing you’ll notice is the art style. It’s a genuinely beautiful game to look at. You play a young musician, living in the shadow of his uncle, who is a famous folk musician.
And the main character, Francis Vandetti, feels trapped into following in his footsteps as a folk musician, such that even his look is based on his uncle’s. So he doesn’t really have an identity of his own.
He’s preparing for a concert he’s going to play the next day in his small hometown. But he seems to be getting second billing to his own show in all the flyers posted around town advertising the concert.
The flyers advertise him as the nephew of the famous folk musician everyone knows. But from pretty early on, it’s clear his passion is for rock music rather than folk music.
The night before his concert, he ends up going on a wild space faring adventure of self-discovery. He gets to create his own identity and embrace his passion for rock ballads.
There’s not a lot to the gameplay. It is basically cutscenes and conversations broken up by side scrolling, platforming sections where you’re playing the guitar while running through vibrant scenery.
But man, this game an incredible visual experience. There are so many unique locations to go through, and playing the guitar always causes elements in the environment to light up.
I don’t think I’ve ever really played a game like this before. It really is more a movie with some interactive segments than it is a game. But it’s a satisfying story. And it’s just so visually appealing. And the music is great as well.
This is an Annapurna game, so they pull from their Hollywood connections for the casting.
Jason Schwartzman plays one of the characters you interact with throughout the game. I’m a big Wes Anderson fan, so I tend to check out anything Jason Schwartzman is in.
Also, Carl Weathers, of Rocky fame, and more recently the Mandalorian, plays a character in this game.
Also, Mark Strong and Lena Heady (Cerci in Game of Thrones) have smaller roles in this game. It’s like they pulled some strings and had their Hollywood friends come into the studio for a day to record a few lines and called it good.
But it’s cool. It’s cool to recognize the voices of some of the characters, and of course for them, it’s some notable names to put in the credits as a feather in their cap.
It’s not the most exciting you’ll play this year, but it might be one of the most vibrant and musical.
It’s hard not to recommend The Artful Escape for anyone because of how simple its gameplay is and how satisfying its story is. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also on Game Pass.