The Artful Escape is a spectacular story-driven platform adventure with rhythm action-type sections. It tells the story of Francis Vendetti, the nephew of a legendary folk guitarist Johnson Vendetti, but Francis' dreams and aspirations lie not in folk, but in rock music…
Playing as a simplistic side-scrolling platformer set in Vendetti's bizarre fantasy universe and mixed with a few jump/double-jump & slide sections, it's almost impossible to get lost or stuck, and unless you hate the sound of a guitar being made to wail, the quality rawk and shred guitar music makes it utterly impossible to not enjoy the game.
The Guitar Hero-lite rhythm action sections are few and far between and only require that you repeat the chords played in a 'follow the leader' mini game with well-timed presses of X, Y, B, LB or RB. It's impossible to fail them, you just keep playing until you hit the right notes. The music is of a high quality so these sections are always fun, even when you play bum notes. There are also sections where you can just play chords with the buttons, and these sound amazingly like you're actually jamming a quality riff yourself–no matter which buttons you press!
The game is basically a journey of discovery, with Francis battling his lack of self confidence and doubts about his destiny. This involves a lot of in-depth multiple choice conversations with genuinely amusing options and replies from the weird and wonderful cast of humanoids and alien creatures voiced by stars including Lena Headey, Carl Weathers and Mark Strong.
The game plays extremely well, Francis goes exactly where you want him to during the platform sections, the dazzlingly colourful scenery and creatures often light up as you make Francis play his guitar–it's a visual feast–weird and trippy, but a feast nonetheless. The dazzling neon colours often reminded me of the movie Avatar, and Francis's holographic laser light shows–that are supplied by cool rock chick Violetta–are simply stunning.
The Artful Escape is a bit of a gem, it's too easy and so it'll only take you 5 or 6 hours to play through, much of which is padding in the form of lengthy, if often amusing, conversations. You may want to give it a second playthrough as there are a few missable achievements so it sounds like value to me, as it only costs £16.74 (oh and it's on Game Pass right now too.) Only its lack of actual gameplay development and a related lack of real challenge gets a point knocked off a perfect 10.