Written by Edwin Francisco
The Artful Escape is a game designed with music in mind and it tells a story of self-discovery. It was developed by Beethoven and Dinosaur, published by Annapurna Interactive.
The game is generally an art piece to the eyes and ears. It’s a surreal overload of visuals and music.
At the same time, it’s a personal journey of self-discovery of Francis Vendetti.
Living in the shadow of his famous uncle, folk-musical legend, Johnson Vendetti.
This adventure will lead him into a world that will remind you of David Bowie, glam rock bands and the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The story of The Artful Escape is very simple in its premise, but it’s told in a funny yet heartful way.
The game’s script is wonderfully crafted. It tells how difficult for Francis to get away from the expectations of who he is supposed to be by everyone he knows.
Even though he’s going to a concert to perform folk music, his love is actually science fiction and rock.
As his moment of doing a folk concert gets nearer, he becomes more worried that he might not live up to everyone’s expectations.
During the night before the concert, he’s visited by an alien, and scoops him up to see the cosmic universe to perform the music that he loves all over the galaxy.
A Euphonious Experience
It also helps that the voice acting in the Artful Escape is incredible.
It seems that Annapurna did what they can to make sure that the cast was just as incredible as the visuals and the music, with Michael Johnston (Teen Wolf) leading the role as Francis Vendetti.
The supporting cast includes Caroline Kinley (So Not Worth It), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World), Mark Strong (Shazam!), and Carl Weathers (The Mandalorian).
All of them performing their best.
I love the voice acting in this game, more so than the last Annapurna game I played which is Twelve Minutes.
The music is also incredibly done.
I love that everywhere you go there is music to listen to.
From the start of the game, you get to listen to some folk song presumably made by the uncle of the main lead.
And each time you go to a new world, you are bombarded with glam rock music that is wonderful to listen to as well.
Add the fact that pressing a dedicated riff button adds more to the music and have more impact to the already incredible harmony.
Each time people mention your name, a guitar riff resembling the sounds from Bill and Ted’s air guitar comes blazing in.
The Perfect View That Spans The Galaxy
The visuals are incredible.
Animations of the characters somehow remind me of rag dolls, but the art style is marvelous.
My wife says that it reminds her a lot of Harry Potter, mainly because of the lead character Francis Vendetti having this scuffled hair and the circular glasses.
But that immediately ends the Harry Potter reference.
The set pieces will remind you of Wes Anderson films with having picturesque scenery with vast looking wonderful colorful worlds.
And as you riff your guitar, even though there is generally no purpose, the environment interacts with you as long as you play the music which is a sight to behold.
The visuals themselves are not technically incredible, but they are truly breathtaking.
It’s like watching a dream unfold. It’s just amazing to see everything in motion.
The Photographic Scenery Lacked A Bit Of A Challenge
The Artful Escape’s game mechanics is very simple that I think anyone can really breeze through this game.
In general, it’s basically a very simple platformer.
No puzzles to figure out, no confusing jump tricks to pull off, no levers to find.
You can make a mistake, and not worry about anything.
The game will immediately return you to a safe spot and you can try it all over again.
There is no penalty in making mistakes in the entire game.
At certain points in the level, you have to press certain keys which will be like playing some musical notes on the guitar.
Remember playing Guitar Hero or Rockband? It’s like that but with easier rules, and again, no penalty.
It’s like a rhythm game without forcing you to actually follow the rhythm.
Mostly it feels like Simon Says, in other words, just do your best to follow the pattern shown and you’ll be fine.
Make a mistake, don’t worry, we can repeat the process until we get it right.
It doesn’t even get any more difficult compared to the first time you experience it.
I’ve played some interactive art before like the game GRIS, Journey, and Flower.
All of them do provide some challenge of finding and clearing out simple puzzles, but it is a challenge.
If you think those are a challenge, the Artful Escape is on the easy-side of that spectrum.
It feels like the game designer wants you to experience everything The Artful Escape offers without being bogged down with difficult challenges.
So, in other words, it feels more like an interactive art instead of being a game.
Review: The Artful Escape By Beethoven And Dinosaur
Since the Artful Escape is not complex, the game’s length doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
The game can be finished in 4 hours.
Overall, it is a wonderful 4 hours and I enjoyed every second of it.
I love the game for being a piece of interactive art.
I’d recommend this to anyone who loves music and playing with a visual masterpiece.
It’s something I highly want everyone to play at least once in their lifetime.
But of course, if you are looking for a challenge, then this might not be for you.
Personally, I enjoyed it so much that I would even recommend people to buy the game to let others (even non gamers) experience it.
The game is not just a game, it’s a dream like experience that you must not miss out.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Developer: Beethoven and Dinosaur
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive