Brought to us by Beethoven & Dinosaur, The Artful Escape follows Francis Vendetti, a teenage musical prodigy struggling with the expectations thrusted upon him after the death of his uncle, the legendary folk artist Johnson Vendetti. In an attempt to escape the shadow of his uncle’s legacy, Francis will embark on a psychedelic cosmic journey to inspire a new stage persona and become the artist he is truly meant to be.
We must start with the music; The Artful Escape’s soundtrack is the highlight of the game. The wailing guitars backed by the organs and the psychedelic synth perfectly encapsulates the feeling of losing yourself in the soundscapes of a space opera. At any point in the game, you can have Francis wail like crazy on his guitar and it feels like the developers recorded hours of unique guitar solos to match every moment possible within the game.
Accompanying The Artful Escape’s stellar soundtrack is its environmental design. From the mundane yet cosy town of Calypso to the far flung reaches of the galaxy, every environment is filled with beautifully intricate detail that makes you feel like you’re exploring the world of prog rock album covers, all animating and coming to life in time with the music. The Artful Escape may be the most beautiful game I have ever laid my eyes on.
- Stellar soundtrack
- Pure visual eye candy
The Artful Escape seems pretty amazing so far, right? So, what’s the catch? Well, the developers seem to have placed little importance on the gameplay itself. Essentially, the game is a walking simulator where throughout 95% of it, you’ll be tilting the joystick rightward hoping for something to happen, only to then stumble across a cosmic being and show it your legendary guitar prowess by playing a basic game of Simon Says. It all results in lacklustre gameplay which fails to compliment its stunning presentation.
As a character, Francis Vendetti is very difficult to sympathise with. Yes, living in someone’s shadow is something that a lot of people can relate to but with Francis, it comes across as overdramatic and self-entitled and as the story's protagonist is underneath both a metaphorical and literal spotlight, it easily creates a sense of resentment from the player.
- Little-to-no actual gameplay
- A protagonist that's difficult to sympathise with
Final Score: 4/10
The Artful Escape lacks substance as a video game. It's a beautiful spectacle but as it's presented in the form of an interactive medium, it fails to deliver anything tangible. The soundtrack is spectacular and the accompanying visuals are a treat but if you're looking for a gaming experience to accompany it, you likely won't find that here.
Thank you for checking out our The Artful Escape Switch review, thank you to Annapurna Interactive (via FortySeven PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out)
- Bel Cubitt