The Sony Conference at Gamescom this year has seen the announcement of a brand new IP for the PlayStation Vita. From the producers and developers of Fat Princess comes Escape Plan, which tells the story of Lil and Laarg, as they try and make their escape from an unknown and dingy death trap in a monochrome world.
From what little we know about the game and its two characters, Laarg is quite rotund and heavy, and uses his weight to break things, whilst Lil can inflate himself with gas to float to great heights. That was just about all we learned from the conference itself - a puzzle platformer with interesting monochrome visuals and a number on the stomach of our intrepid escapees. Following the conference, we sat down with developers from Funbits Interactive and Sony Worldwide Studios America in Santa Monica, California, as they showed us a little more about what could become one of the darlings of the PS Vita.
First thing off the bat, there is as little use of the face buttons as they can manage, however nothing was mentioned about what that might be if it isn't just menu navigation. The idea is to swipe and prod Lil and Laarg to move and stop them respectively, as they navigate the dangerous world they've been placed in.
Items in the level can be interacted with by pressing them on the touch screen and the touch pad on the back for varying effects, like knocking on a door to get someone to open it, or pushing a bed into or out of the path of Lil - just to give some examples. You also have to "pinch" Lil with both touch screen and touch pad to get him to fart, and propel himself while inflated. There are even SixAxis controls to tilt the world when floating to navigate the dangers you encounter. There are other special functions such as the inflation throughout the game, although they only mentioned coffee "which makes you dash".
One thing the developers were keen to point out, is that you can pan the camera using the back touch pad to scope out your surroundings. This comes into play when making your way through each section, ensuring that you plan ahead for the obstacles and other problems in your path. This was weirdly reminiscent of Lemmings, if there are any other dusty old gamers who would appreciate that reference.
It turns out there is a “Watcher" who observes the actions of our heroes as they perform these daring escape feats. In the early levels, the Watcher and his minions would act as a studio audience for your actions, laughing as you failed and cheering as you succeed. This provides an introduction to the story, which is still surrounded in mystery, either intentionally or as part of the game itself.
One thing that should be noted: when the developers were showing off the pinch mechanic for farting, it did look fairly awkward. Perhaps it was just the pressure of the presentation or something you would get used to in time though, however without even a release date announced it is likely far from the final product. Supposedly the concepts for the game have been thrown around for a few years, even before the idea of Fat Princess was conceived, with the art style apparently coming from "a dark place" caused by a previously unrevealed job.
Oh yes, and it was probably quite obvious, but the numbers on the body are the number of times they've died, with rewards and bonuses tied into that.
Escape Plan is a title that you should definitely keep an eye on, as this quirky handheld outing is already proving itself to be quite a gem.