It's a cold, cruel world out there.
And it's a cold, cruel world in the PlayStation Vita's downloadable puzzler Escape Plan. Never mind that you're controlling two blobby-looking ink blots. Just imagine the scenario being played out on the other side of the glass screen:
Some massive mysterious finger pokes you, directing you where to go at every turn. You're too stupid to do it yourself, so instead you just let the finger guide the way. Sure, sometimes you get crushed and a splatter of black blood covers the landscape, but such is life when you're the rejects of some maniacal genius bent on keeping you from reaching the production line.
Lill and Laarg play the dimwitted heroes of Escape Plan, and as the player, you have to guide them safely through to the exit of each room. You'll have to manipulate traps and other environmental hazards in order to guarantee the safe passage of these two, but how you do that is truly unique to the Vita.
Escape Plan uses the front and rear touchscreens (touch-zones?) exclusively. Swiping across either character will direct them to move, while tapping on them will cause them to halt. Some items can be interacted with via tapping; others require swiping.
One puzzle has you guide Lill and Laarg over electrified floor panels by tapping the back of the Vita to knock down platforms so your guys don't get electrocuted, and then down through a whole in the floor once Laarg breaks the exposed, cracked wood. Finally, after knocking over a mattress with the rear touch pad for a safe landing, they can safely go through the bottom floor exit.
The art style is dark and the death animations are even darker. There's certainly a lot of personality in Escape Plan, though it woulud have been better attached to a better game. Sure, lemmings have always been stupid in video games, but Lill and Laarg are frustratingly dumb.
Either the touch panels are too sensitive or they're not sensitive enough. Failing to conquer an obstacle happens constantly, having to swipe twice to get Lill to move or seeing Laarg not stop even after the third tap. An early room had a surprisingly simple solution, but every time I tried to manipulate the object to open the door, it would refuse to move until the fifth or sixth swipe.
That said, there are too many loading screens, puzzles are too short, and Escape Plan just isn't fun compared to the rest of the PlayStation Vita's offerings. Despite all of this, there's plenty of content here for the price, and Escape Plan can certainly fill the brief voids in between Uncharted marathons and Lumines binges.
If you want a game that can mix up your activity on the go or maybe a title with a ton of personality that shows off the touch controls on the PlayStation Vita, Escape Plan can't be missed. If you've already got five games, resist the urge to buy more. This one will go on sale soon.
Don't look away for too long, though, or Laarg will get electrocuted and Lill will get minced by some saw blades. This is the most gruesome babysitting you'll ever do.