REVIEW: The Artful Escape

An original and unique psychedelic space opera, ladened with imaginative and memorable moments. Deliciously over the top. It is an assault on the senses.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Beethoven and Dinosaur
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release date: 9 Sept, 2021

🎬Intro🎬

The Artful Escape is a mind-bending adventure containing platforming and memory elements.

Francis Vendetti, the nephew of famous folk singer Johnson Vendetti, is about to perform in his first concert. The townsfolk of Calypso have long been looking forward to hearing Francis play his uncle’s greatest hits.

Francis is haunted by his Uncle and feels the weight of expectation on his shoulders.
His house is both a shrine and a tomb.

On the eve of the concert, Francis encounters a girl called Violetta who senses that he is having an identity crisis. Does Francis really want to live in the shadows of his uncle or does he want to emerge and forge his own destiny? Violetta summons Lightman, the greatest guitar player in the Universe, and together they embark on a psychedelic trip through the cosmos, meeting strange alien life forms and visiting faraway planets to share their musical vision.

🕹️Gameplay🕹️

The gameplay involves platforming, memory recall, narrative and dialogue exchanges.

The Artful Escape is essentially a narrative driven adventure but the story is broken up with the following mechanics.

🚶‍♀️Platforming🚶‍♀️

There are platforming sections, usually on the way to meet a character or find a mysterious place. Francis can jump, double jump and perform a slight hover whilst trying to leap over chasms. They are generally easy to navigate and rarely will you need more than a single jump. Larger gaps may require you to use a double jump and then a hang to make it.

Platforming is easy but fun nonetheless. The backgrounds are always so interesting and colorful.

You also slide down slopes, gathering momentum and you can jump higher if you bounce on certain objects, like mushrooms.

Whilst performing platforming you can play your guitar which grabs the attention of the local inhabitants and brings the environments to life.

🧠Memory Recall🧠

During your quest to find yourself, you will encounter creatures that challenge you to guitar showdowns, where you have to repeat the riffs that the creature performs.

Using your controller or keyboard you have to use five different buttons and match their sequence. Sometimes, there will be two notes played together and even three notes simultaneously.

Francis is often challenged to prove he is worthy (or am I thinking of Wayne’s World?)

The intensity and the longevity of the sequences increase until they are defeated.

📕Narrative and Dialogue📕

Behind the musical extravaganza is a wonderful story and often you will converse with weird and eccentric creatures.

Luckily, they all speak your language and you are given dialogue options to respond. The choices don’t really matter though so pick the funniest ones and don’t worry about the consequences.

Dialogue choices always have some interesting options but they don’t change the course of the narrative.
One of the fantastic creations you will meet on your journey all excellently voiced.

Please note there is a section where you are asked about your background and asked to choose a name; These options do carry throughout the game so pick wisely.

There are opportunities to examine pre-determined things but these are few and far between. They’re always worth looking at though.

Places and objects of interest are highlighted and usually result in something insightful or unusual.

I’m not usually bothered about designing my character but there is a fun and creative opportunity to redesign your look with a vast array of different clothing items and accessories, as well as your hair and makeup. I actually had a blast making my own persona and watching him perform.

My creation in all its glory. There are so many outfits and looks to choose from. You can certainly design something spectacular.

📺 Graphics 📺

Visuals are nothing short of spectacular with explosions of color everywhere. Characters are incredibly imaginatively drawn and there are copious amounts of opportunities for screenshots.

The environments, locations and buildings are wonderfully crafted with a futuristic feel and cosmic attitude.

There are some great places to visit with wacky characters and situations.

🎵Sound 🎵

A music game wouldn’t be any good without good sound design and this game has it all. Amazing voice acting from every character, with some household names performing voiceovers, and an outburst of guitar riffs and musical compositions that are relentless.

🤔Overall Impressions🤔

The Artful Escape is a zany, original and spectacular space opera with wonderful performances and memorable moments.

It felt like a mixture of Bill and Ted, The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and Monty Python rolled into one. The production value was immense with wonderful voice acting and incredible visuals. It was an assault on the senses for five hours and never let up.

The Yellow Submarine? No it’s red.

The game is all about music, from the story to the gameplay.

Wielding his mighty holographic electric guitar, Francis is able to literally light up environments with his playing. Animals emerge from holes; lights get brighter; and alien life forms dance as he slides down slopes and jumps over chasms whilst playing. His music is a catalyst for hope and regeneration and it is wonderful to watch. I would recommend playing guitar as much as possible as it can produce some interesting spectacles in the background. Unfortunately, it does make the platforming a little more cumbersome, as you must hold down a controller button, and sometimes playing riffs interferes with the ambient music in the background; Sometimes it compliments it and other times it clashes.

The platforming elements are very easy and won’t challenge. On occasion you will die, but the respawn is so generous that it keeps the intensity high and never causes frustration. The platforming elements are purely there as a vehicle to break up narrative sections of the game.

There is an array of characters to meet, and they are all incredibly original and imaginative. The main characters are noticeably performed by some famous actors, and although this doesn’t always guarantee success, in this case it is done superbly.

The dialogue is not only inciteful but it is marvelously witty. I laughed out loud on a few occasions and felt like I had a smile on my face throughout the game. It is full of little touches of genius and clever exchanges.

There are copious amounts of jokes and clever ideas that keep you smiling.

The story is quite deep and meaningful for such a zany production. There are moments of drama, regret, and emotion, and the characters are well developed for such a short excursion. It has all the ingredients to make a decent story, and embellished with the spectacular visuals and sound, it produces a memorable experience. I was particularly impressed with the quality of writing. There was never too much to read but what was presented was meaningful and stimulating.

The story is quite gripping and told masterfully.

There is an element of memory recall in the gameplay, much like Simple Simon, where you have to repeat sequences. This may stump younger players as it can be quick and relatively difficult, but if you make a mistake, it is very generous in giving you another go, until eventually you will succeed.

The memory game where you repeat the sequences to progress.
Concerts are adrenaline pumping visual spectaculars with thumping beats which are exciting to participate in.

🍳Verdict🍳

The Artful Escape is a unique game that is extremely pleasurable to play. It is exciting, humorous and entertaining.

The feel-good factor remains sky high throughout, with all the witty situations and imaginative phenomenon.

Behind the bizarre façade lies a genuinely entertaining and inciteful story which is wonderfully produced, but the game isn’t very challenging from a gameplay perspective, so it is best suited for narrative adventure lovers.

Written by
Janner
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