We all (ok, some) remember hearing those immortal words from Josef Fares during The Game Awards in 2017. Predictably, the internet responded with celebratory meme-ing and, pleasantly, a broader discourse about the underestimation of video games as a thoughtful medium. One need only look at the viewership numbers for the latest TGAs (83 million) versus the Oscars (23 million) to see that the world took Fares at his word.
But Fares wasn’t there to kill the Oscars. In fact, most of the interview focused on his newest release. It was a game unlike any in recent memory, a bold innovation that flew in the face of conventional commercial wisdom. He called it — somewhat ironically — A Way Out.
In an era too often dominated by boardroom homogeneity and shareholder interests, Fares launched a game that could not have survived any path outside of independent development. It is, in short, a co-op game in the truest sense of the word.
A Way Out was released in 2017, developed by Fares’ Hazelight Studio and published by Electronic Arts. The development team built its reputation with another co-op classic, Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. This time, Hazelight doubled down and did something truly unique: A Way Out is co-op ONLY.
Co-op is not a mode or a feature, because having two players is literally the only way to play the game.
Fares has explained A Way Out is best played as couch co-op, a feature that has become anathema to most modern publishers. Why enable couch co-op when you can charge two people to buy the game? Even more shocking, A Way Out came with a free copy for players to gift to someone so they could play together online. Guess what? It sold 3.5 million copies anyway.
A Way Out isn’t some gimmicky arcade game, either. It follows the story of Leo and Vincent, two inmates who make a daring prison break and must go on the run in order to get revenge on the man who set them up.
From the outset, the game digs deep into co-op mechanics, including some memorable sequences of the two of you shimmying back-to-back through ductwork and passing tools back and forth between your cells, with one player always on the lookout for guards.
The rest of A Way Out is choc-a-bloc with honest co-op moments (including a game of Connect Four) alongside a bevy of classic crime story fare like shootouts and car chases. So while the story could’ve fit into a single-player action title with ease, the mechanics and gameplay are unlike anything you’ll play elsewhere.
The co-op dynamic also plays into the story with players having to make split-second decisions that they may disagree on. Playing the game alongside someone is an absolute blast, and the banter between Leo and Vincent mirrors some of this friendly tension.
A Way Out is available now on Xbox Game Pass, making it the perfect choice for players who want to game but also want to experience this whole socializing thing people are raving about.