24 September 2023

Indie Corner Games

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The Artful Escape review

One, Two, One, Two, check, check, lights, guitar, ROCK ON! The Artful Escape is a title presented by the creative direction of Johnny Galvatron, lead singer of the rock band “The Galvatrons” and published by Annapurna Interactive. A sort of anthem to how to be what you really are, and not what other people expect you to be, which in this case refers to an intergalactic Rock Star. An adventure between the city of Calypso and distant galaxies, superbly set with landscapes, cities, planets, and lights where everything together makes it feel like we are in Disney Land.

The player plays the role of Francis Vendetti, a teenager nephew of a folk star named Johnson Vendetti, who lives in the small town of Calypso. One day Francis, sitting on a park bench in a verdant landscape, finds himself at a crossroads of thoughts. On the one hand, he does not want to carry the burden left by his Uncle, he wants to find himself, but on the other hand, he is afraid as all the inhabitants and visitors of Calypso eagerly await his concert/tribute to the late legend of the Folk. The resemblances are more than many, but does Francis intends to pass himself off as his uncle for the rest of his life? Fun fact, everyone in Calypso wears glasses, perhaps in a kind of homage to the then-deceased artist.

In this, the figure of Violetta appears, a girl with uncomplex attitude and clothes à la punk rock, who sees something special in our main character. Between lines of text, all of them have superb voice acting, Francis has an epiphany and sees something that really leaves him thinking about his future. Folk or intergalactic Rock with solos that leave anyone listening to their guitar? History will tell.

The story is set in the intergalactic Cosmos of Francis’ imagination, a metaphor for a mind-blowing journey to the stars in search of his true self. Or did it really happen and he came back to being a completely different person? Demarcated in its essence by bright backdrops, and epic moments that are based on a very simple gameplay, mixed with platforms and rhythm game.

In fact, I feel somehow reluctant to identify it as a platformer. It’s almost a visual novel, which merges choice options, which doesn’t actually change the end of the story, just a few details of space and lines of text. All of its side scroller mechanics are premised on going from point A to B, with no room for much exploration since it’s a closed environment. Each new environment culminates in a frenetic “solo combat”, commanded by epic creatures, all of which have, in a peculiar way, the marks of the keys that the player will have to press to make himself heard.

Something frustrating is, and if you really want to get all the splendor that this title presents, the fact that you have to press a button while walking, to unleash some guitar solos that somehow wake up the environment around the player. Animals, vegetation, trees, all of them react in the most diverse ways to the sound of the guitar, producing a spectacle of lights like never before.

The Artful Escape pays homage to countless aspects and legends of music, art, and culture with the aim of dazzling the viewer. With a story that in fact touches everyone by its emotional fingertips, this, unlike Francis at the beginning of his adventure, is a title that knows exactly what it wants.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC, via Game Pass]