The Artful Escape is one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played. I’m convinced it will affect others similarly as they fly past the symphony of light, sound, and anything imaginable in the story of Francis Vendetti.
Though the game bills itself as just an action-adventure, it does so many different things, and and does them well, that it almost seems like it’s every genre. At the core of its melody though, The Artful Escape is an exciting and thrilling electric guitar slide from left to right as Francis and the player discovers not only who they are but where they both fit within the world. Francis can jump, run, and slide through the air with the power of his holographic and magical electric guitar.
There will be a show tonight on galaxies
The game begins with Francis preparing for his very first performance. He’s thinking about the road in front of him and the songs ahead. And this is when everything changes. Francis starts to dwell on the legacy of an iconic folk musician name Johnson Vendetti. It’s uh, well it’s a bit complicated. Johnson is the uncle of Francis and it’s something that can’t be ignored or forgotten. Francis is passionate about music and has aspirations and dreams of wielding music for something much greater. He just isn’t sure how to balance his own identity with his uncle’s, especially since their passions are so intertwined.
And then his journey begins. Francis and the player go on a cosmic journey that wouldn’t be out of place in a psychedelic mid-’60s music video from The Beatles. Waves of color splash against the screen, bleeding into everything as the music cuts above everything, with Francis gliding across the surface as if the waves were physical. Music is powerful. It affects us. It changes us. And the story of Francis reflects this on both wavelengths.
Francis and his musical abilities change as he continues to move through the cosmos, recruiting the team and techniques to tackle the Glamourgonn, an intergalactic, cosmic threat. Lightman (voiced by Carl Weathers) is an ally to Francis, along with Violetta, who both dare him to take risks and play the wrong notes. Experimenting and hitting the wrong notes is the only way to grow, even if it sounds wrong sometimes. It’s all part of changing time signatures, switching up rhythms, and finding the right countermelody to sing your song. And this is part of the journey that Francis and the player are on, with the guidance and inspiration from Lightman and Violetta.
“It is unrivaled in this dimension or any other.”
The Artful Escape features thrilling and emotional platforming that’s set against a kaleidoscopic dreamscape. Developer Beethoven & Dinosaur managed to tune the experience well. Everything fits together nicely and feels like it belongs, even though The Artful Escape refuses to let up as the electric laser light show commences. The game is absolutely brilliant. It manages to pull the empathy and exploration of one’s self from some of the most soul-stirring indie titles and blend it completely into pure energy, feeling, and color.
The Artful Escape doesn’t really have traditional combat. There are some epic boss battle-style segments but they feel like awakenings more than any kind of battle. Just like Francis Vendetti though, you’re allowed to make mistakes. A wrong note or forgetting to strum is alright. It happens. It’s part of the song and it’s part of life. The majority of the experience reminds me of the musical levels from Rayman Legends, but with the ability to play your own song. I can only think of a few instances where I failed but the checkpoint system and load times are incredibly fast.
The Artful Escape is available on Steam, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. It launched in Xbox Game Pass and is available for subscribers as of writing. There are very few games that I feel confident in recommending to absolutely everyone, regardless of taste and preference. This is one of those games. Everything feels and plays as wonderful as it sounds, and this is one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever felt. If you’re already on the right side of your life then The Artful Escape will encourage you and build you up. If you’re struggling or drowning, it’ll give you the light and inspiration needed to make it through to a new tomorrow.