The Artful Escape has one of the best sounding and beautifully presented original story ideas of recent memory. Developed by AnnaPurna Interactive and released in 2021, the same team who made Stray, another game I reviewed and thought a lot of during this summer.

Beginning the game out among the gold-leaved trees of mountainous Colorado before moving on to locations with growing degrees of fantastical, every second spent playing The Artful Escape is a veritable feast for the eyes. You play as Francis Vendetti, an aspiring folk musician who is the nephew of local legend, Johnson Vendetti, a folk music mastermind. On the eve of Francis performing on-stage live for the first time, other worldly forces become aware of his musical talent and whisk him away to worlds beyond the stars to perform for them instead. From there the story only gets more bonkers, but remains just as brilliant.

The game delves into personal subjects such as identity and how we are perceived by those around us, and is written in such a way that you can focus on these elements if you wish to or choose to regard them only for the impact they hold on the story, and not dwell on them outside of the game. Similarly to Stray’s dedicated meow button, The Artful Escape has a button to break out and play Francis’ guitar as you trek through the game’s vibrant environments, and even allows you to jump further or ground-pound surfaces when needed to assist with traversing areas.

The dialogue and humour throughout the story comes across just as heartfelt and comedic as you would hope for a game which follows its wacky premise. With respect again to its visuals, no game this short in comparison to full length triple-A experiences has made me lean so heavily on the share button to capture so many incredible images. I could easily fill an album at this stage.

The only minor downside to my experience with The Artful Escape is that there is very little gameplay. There are occasional brief platforming sections which instantly respawn you on the ledge you fell off should you miss any jumps, as well as some pattern copying sections. Aside from that the experience is all about the story and its focus on music. If you’re feeling a little dissuaded already as you’re not into folk music don’t worry, neither am I, and other genres are capably catered for as well by The Artful Escape.

I was transfixed by the experience all the way through to the games epic climax, and while I wish the epilogue was playable, I would happily play through the entire game again if I didn’t have a dozen others to get around to.

As you can see, music is a fundamental aspect of gaming. Without music and artistry gaming wouldn’t be the same experience it is today, so how do you start to appreciate what goes into game design behind the scenes? The beauty that music can contribute to an entire gaming adventure cannot be underestimated, and there are so many emerging artists hoping to make their breakthrough in the industry. If you know someone who’s gifted, or you have a keen interest in making music yourself, this music industry site can equip you with the knowledge you need to take your career to the next level. Learning more about the music industry itself will not only be interesting, but it will also help you you share useful information with people who make find it useful

The game is currently available for free to all PlayStation Plus subscribers of the Extra or Premium tier. A real master class in video game story-telling which, provided you accept the fact there won’t be much real gameplay to be had, has been an absolute treat for me that I encourage anyone to download. Yes, it’s even worth the price of admission to a Plus Extra tier subscription, so if you’ve been looking for a reason to upgrade then now is the time. For its breath-taking visuals, perfectly complimentary musical score and its outstanding story, compactly packed into its roughly five hour length, I can without hesitation award The Artful Escape

10 / 10

Written, edited and images captured by Alexx.