One of the real surprises of Sony's Gamescom press conference this year was Escape Plan. It's a new PlayStation Vita title from developer Fun Bits, whose Chris Millar previously worked on Fat Princess. Escape Plan is a heavily stylised puzzle game that incorporates front and rear touch-screen controls as you try to steer hapless duo Lil and Laarge through increasingly deadly traps.
The game opens with Lil in bed. You touch him to wake him up, but you can also interact with other items in his room, such as the lamps, to the same effect. From here, you swipe right to move him out of the room through the door and on to the first puzzle. Here, you have to inflate Lil with gas so that he starts floating through the air. You then tilt the Vita to guide him through a hole and then "pinch" him by tapping the front and back touch sensors at the same time. This causes him to expel the air and fly across the screen, heading into the next door.
It's clear that the developer is still experimenting with the Vita hardware at this stage and how its features can be used to solve puzzles. Our Sony representative explained that there may be the possibility of mic input, either to instruct the characters or, as we saw in the first puzzle, to wake them up. One feature there won't be, though, is multiplayer--Escape Plan is designed exclusively as a single-player game.
There was a good mix of puzzles in the short demo we played. In one, we had to get Laarge, the lumbering oaf character, to jump through some floorboards into a new area, and in another we had to trick a giant hammer into missing us and knocking down a door. Minions will also play a part in the game's puzzle design--we had to kill one either by flattening it or electrocuting it so that Laarge could pass. We failed quite regularly, but loved that your character has a number etched on his chest showing how many times he has died in the game.
One of the most interesting aspects of Escape Plan is its striking visual design, and as our Sony rep said, it does look good on the Vita's OLED screen. The same rep seemed to think that the black and white graphics and cute death animations were more original than they were, with Limbo clearly having influenced the game's adorable-but-deadly design. That said, we never tired of seeing the duo die in humorous ways, so we're on board with it at this stage.
It's still early days in terms of development, with no price or release date tied down yet. However, there are plenty of neat ideas in this early stage that point to lots of promise. It's not going to be on display on the Gamescom show floor, but we'll bring you more on the game soon.