Erm, okay. Bloody hell. We were not expecting a cosmic space odyssey from The Artful Escape, but that’s what the musical platformer delivers.
It’s quite the incredible spectacle! A visual treat like few other indie games have ever delivered. Let’s take the trip.
Far Out, Man, in The Artful Escape
The Artful Escape is from indie developer Beethoven & Dinosaur, an Australian studio founded by Johnny Galvatron.
The game launched in September 2021 on Steam and the Xbox consoled. In January 2022 it hit the PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.
Galvatron was the game’s creative director, using the influence of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust phase to create the games numerous set pieces.
What also features is an unexpectedly star studded cast, including the voice talents of Lena Headey (Game of Thrones fame), Jason Schwartzman, Mark Strong, and Carl Weathers.
Right… plot. It’s a complicated one. But involves young Francis Vendetti, nephew to famous ’70s folk star Johnson Vendetti (basically, the game’s take on Bob Dylan), arriving at the town of Calypso, Colorado, to play a 20th anniversary tribute gig.
Whilst struggling to be a successful musician in his uncle’s shadow, Francis also enjoys sci-fi. However, before the gig he’s visited by an unusual woman.
The same night, he’s visited by a strange but friendly alien called Zomm. Francis is then transported across time and space on a, kind of, intergalactic adventure to meet the fames space rock star Lightman. Yeah!
If that doesn’t make any sense, just look at The Artful Escape. Look at it!
The Artful Escape is more an interactive experience, along the lines of Playdead’s INSIDE.
You primarily run to the right and jump every now and then whilst shredding your neon guitar. Your input as a player is pretty minimalistic.
Although this is helped along OXENFREE type speech boxes that help you to chat to some of the charming alien creatures you come across.
But the main focus of The Artful Escape is, as you move along, you come across some incredible set pieces.
We mean, these are really, really impressive set pieces that’ll wow you. They’re a visual marvel and just keep on coming at you in waves.
Johnny Galvatron was also responsible for the game’s stellar soundtrack.
The squealing guitars may grate for some people (we’re not huge fans of that type of music), but other compositions are much more choral in their approach.
In many respects, the game is a love letter to the rock star in all of us. As in, the failed one.
Whether you would have loved to be a singer, guitarist, drummer, or bassist, The Artful Escape is a celebration of the failed musician in all of us.
But more importantly… it’s a damn fun video game! Quite inspired, at its very best.
We do feel it may lose some of its impact on the second playthrough, as your sense of wonder fades with familiarity at the surprises in store.
Regardless, we recommend it all the same as a cosmic experience like few others.