THE ARTFUL ESCAPE
Developer Beethoven And Dinosaur Publisher Annapurna Interactive Format PC, Xbox One Release TBA
Annapurna Interactive’s winning form continues with this psychedelic rock opera, the brainchild of Australian developer Johnny Galvatron. As well as designing the game, he’s supplied the frantic fretwork that provides The Artful Escape with its beating heart. Tap the jump button twice and, as you’d expect, our lanky, bespectacled hero performs a double jump. But keep pressing it and he’ll whip out a magical guitar and play a lightning-paced lick that’s pure Bill & Ted. These airborne sonic excursions sync up perfectly with the ethereal backing track; never before has running from left to right felt so wrong. This is a game that begs to be played in the air.
It’s not just for show, admittedly – from time to time you’ll come to a chasm that must be crossed by a beam of light that will only carry you if you’re wailing away like an overexcited Steve Vai – but it’s simple, overtly playful stuff that is perfectly happy to be more about style than substance. Thankfully both elements are to be found in boss battles, which root you to the spot and charge you with matching note patterns using all four face buttons and both bumpers. While its central hook and sumptuous visual style mace it ideal for the E3 show floor, it remains to be seen whether the novelty can last the full length of the game – worryingly, the demo ends with a forgettable downhill section that transforms your guitar into a surfboard – but this was one of the most talked-about games at this year’s E3. Not bad for a project that comfortably missed its meagre Kickstarter goal a little over a year ago.