The Artful Escape Review – A cosmic trip into the creative process

The Artful Escape comes from Beethoven & Dinosaur, a brand-new studio led by Johnny Galvatron, a former musician. That musical background is useful as the Artful Escape has a huge focus on its main protagonist and his music.

The opening of The Artful Escape focuses on the main character, Francis Vendetti, preparing for a tribute show for his uncle, Johnny Vendetti, while standing on an overlook. While he tries to play folk songs, he seems unable to perform but releases an amazing space opera guitar solo. Clearly, there’s something yearning to be free.

This is hardly the first time a game has tackled the creative process. Games have talked about the creation of music, writing, movies, and even video games. But rather than wax on the topic insufferably, The Artful Escape instead uses the topic as a springboard for a larger story.

For the first half-hour, we learn that Johnny is overshadowed by his famous uncle, but he has desires for something different. There’s a sci-fi vision in his mind, a wish to escape, and a push for those around him to be like his uncle. After this opening, suddenly The Artful Escape is prepared, like a roller coaster that has just climbed that first hill and is now ready to take the rider on its journey.

At this point, strange happenings occur. A unique creature comes to Francis Vendetti’s door. It’s a brain and nervous system in a large glass tube, and he changes Francis’ outfit and gives him a guitar that allows him to light up his house and any location he plays in front of. This strange being telling Francis that Lightman is waiting

From there, The Artful Escape truly begins. While I doubt my words can do it justice, The Artful Escape goes on a completely psychedelic experience that transcends time and space. Francis meets Lightman and is taken to the Cosmic Extraordinary, and then goes on a journey across vast distances to experience amazing sights, sounds, and locations.

After that slow methodical opening for the first thirty minutes, The Artful Escape starts delivering a consistent level of new and beautiful sights and experience every chance it gets. Players will start running down a Rainbow but then go to far-off worlds, with unique creatures and beautiful vistas.

And in addition to those amazing views, The Artful Escape starts to explore soundscapes that drive the space opera style visuals with perfectly accompanied musical explorations. Players will also be able to jam on their guitar to add additional complexity to the songs, and similar to that opening, they can change the backgrounds, music, and even befriend creatures with their rifts, or slides.

What’s particularly amazing is that every location feels fresh and new. There are so many wonderful sights and creativity, and they all come from an inventive place. The Artful Escape keeps the player’s attention because players wonder what they might explore or discover next.

Up to this point, the focus has been on the visuals, sounds, and sights of The Artful Escape, and part of the reason is due to the lack of much of everything else. If one was to remove the visuals, The Artful Escape has two real modes. The ability to walk to the left or right at a slow pace, interact or talk with different people and objects, and a game like Simon where you have to match different button presses.

While there is some very light platforming, mostly involving jumping between platforms or bouncing off objects, there is no danger or difficulty of failure. Even falling into a bottomless pit, will result in the player going back only a couple of feet. If players fail to match the exact pattern from the Simon game, the game repeats it until they do so.

That’s understandable. The Artful Escape is attempting to dazzle and delight the player, rather than challenge them with difficulty or punish them for mistakes. With the game’s focus on the artistic pursuit, it makes sense for it to say there’s no wrong answer or no incorrect moves and The Artful Escape lives up to this. But The Artful Escape lacks deep gameplay, which works for the story it’s telling and the experience it provides, but some players may wish for more.

Still, it’s the journey that’s important in the Artful Escape. The journey of Francis Vendetti attempting to escape his uncle’s shadow, the journey into the unknown that The Artful Escapes whisks Francis Vendetti off on, and the journey of the player through the sights and sounds of The Artful Escape. And those are journeys well worth experiencing.

I give The Artful Escape an arbitrary

8/10

This was a joy to play through and I delight in a chance to discuss it once again.

I included this title in my Youtube coverage of the Xbox Game Pass for October 2020, if you’re interested in that, please check out the following link: https://youtu.be/oHaW4s8Mopc

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