why i love… the hospital chase in a way out
How A Way Out uses diverse gameplay and stellar cinematic techniques to deliver its most memorable scene
Publisher Electronic Arts / Developer Hazelight Studios / format Xbox One / release date March 2018
Josef Fares’ inventive co-op adventure A Way
Out drew plaudits following its release earlier this year, featuring a memorable story, varied gameplay, and a brilliantly unique take on the action-adventure genre. The game, which sees the characters of Vincent and Leo escape from prison and go on the run, boasts a range of memorable set-pieces, with none more exhilarating than its hospital chase scene, encapsulating many of
A Way Out’s strongest qualities. The level takes place towards the latter part of the game, opening with a cutscene in which Vincent visits his newly-born daughter in hospital. The police have been tipped off as to the pair’s location, however, and soon arrive at the building, spurring an emotional goodbye and daring escape. Both main characters dart off in different directions, marking the only notable time the game ditches its standard co-op mechanics in favour of a turn-by-turn approach.
In the next ten, frenetic minutes, Vincent and Leo find themselves engaging in everything from rapid quicktime fights to measured stealth sections. The sense of desperation is ever-apparent, and there’s not a dull moment to be had – the result of A Way Out’s purposefully diverse approach to gameplay. This scene alone has you climbing buildings, fighting adversaries, stealthily hiding from the cops, and much, much more, all in the midst of rushing from room to room.
There are some fantastically creative design choices in A
Way Out, and plenty of them feature as part of this hospital chase. The side-scrolling combat sequence, which sees Leo engage in short 2D-style fights with various foes, does a great job of making basic fighting feel impactful as a result of a perspective change. The grand finale, in which Vincent takes the wheel of a getaway vehicle, ramps up the drama significantly by implementing a slow- motion sequence, highlighting the carnage around him.
“My background as a filmmaker has helped me out with this game,” Fares told OXM ahead of A Way Out’s release. “If you look at the cinematics, look at how the camera movements are, look at some of the gameplay ideas – how they are played in a sense. I have many ideas on how to take that even further.” This is where the hospital chase scene excels most prominently. Fares utilises his experience as a film director to great effect, implementing a range of thrilling camera angles and unique perspectives to heighten the appeal. Most notably, the scene takes advantage of a single-shot structure, lasting the entire ten minutes. This means the camera never cuts away from the action, despite regularly switching between both characters. The lack of a cutaway allows the momentum to remain hectic, replacing typical blackout segments with creative transitions. The camera takes a free-flowing approach as it moves through vents, ghosts between windows, and even makes use of surveillance footage to seamlessly switch between rooms. This leads to some tremendously impressive cinematography, and it also gives the scene a particularly high-budget feel.
The way the camera adapts to each carefully manufactured segment feels masterful in design. In one part, there’s a stealth section in which you have to blend in with the other patients in the hospital. The camera almost feels like it’s hiding with you, peering over the ledge to listen in on what the police are verbalising in the background. In another, there’s a mini-chase sequence in which you’re tasked with blocking a doorway with a bookcase, with the camera focusing on the door’s window as an oncoming policeman approaches with speed. It’s a credit to how meticulously detailed this scene is that you forget how limited the gameplay can be. It’s filled with quicktime events aplenty, and even big fight scenes require little more than a tap of a button.
When A Way Out was undergoing its promotional period ahead of the game’s release, the hospital chase scene featured prominently. It’s no surprise – it’s not only one of the most creatively ambitious segments in the game, but arguably the most gripping, too. I’ve introduced the game to numerous players since its release, and it’s always the hospital scene that sets jaws dropping. In putting it together, Josef Fares and his team delivered one of the most thrilling action sequences of 2018.
“The way the camera adapts to each carefully manufactured segment feels masterful in design”
right This segment feels the most polished, and lasts longest in the memory.
Above The action soon ramps up after the hospital scene, introducing epic shootouts and vehicle getaways.