Comprehending A Way Out's Bizarre Minigames
A Way Out is about two unlikely allies, Leo and Vincent, who must learn to work together to break out of prison and confront a common threat. However, being on the lam doesn’t mean there isn’t time to stop and smell the roses. Along their journey, Leo and Vincent come across a few activities. These can provide more context to the story, change up gameplay, or seemingly have no purpose. Here are some of the minigames that stood out to us, for better or worse.
Disclaimer: For those who like to go into a game with as little information as possible, light spoilers follow.
If you go to jail and don’t come out swole, you’re doing something wrong. The first minigame we discovered is the stereotypical gym equipment in the prison yard. The concept is simple, but the game’s setting would feel incomplete without it. Prove that you’re the big dog of the prison block by pumping out as many reps as you can. The winner gets the loser’s pudding cup (not really, but that would’ve made the stereotype complete).
How it’s played – Approach a piece of gym equipment then button mash to complete as many reps as you can for a few seconds.
What it adds –You won’t see any muscle gains from your work, but a 1970’s prison scene would feel incomplete without it.
It’s not all fun and games in A Way Out, even during the minigames. Sometimes the journey is about survival. Freshly out of the joint, Leo and Vincent take refuge in the nearby woods as they make their escape. Along the way, they come across a small pond where they alternate between guiding fish toward their unsuspecting doom and spearing them for dinner. This is one of many minigames that promotes healthy cooperation between Leo and Vincent.
How it’s played – Each character will take turns between guiding the fish towards the other, while the spear holder waits until they get close and pushes the corresponding button to stab it.
What it adds – It showcases the continued teamwork between Leo and Vincent while adding to a survivalist element to their escape. Unlike the other games on this list, this one is mandatory.
We have to include the meta experience of playing a game within a game, especially when that game is in an arcade cabinet randomly placed in an air hanger. We know A Way Out takes place sometime in the 1970’s, but nothing makes it feel more dated and nostalgic than playing a competitive match of a Pong rip-off.
How it’s played – Each player controls a basket-like icon that’s used to keep a “grenade” airborne and propel it to the other side. If the grenade lands on your side, your opponent gets a point.
What it adds – Another game that feels a little out of place given the time and location when you discover it. It feels like it was thrown in just for the sake of of playing a game within a game.
This is button-mashing machismo at its finest. While searching for a contact at a construction site, Leo and Vincent can put their manliness to the test in a good, old-fashioned arm wrestling bout. This one makes the list not because it’s mechanically sound, but because it’s a surprising challenge to outlast another human being who’s trying to mash the same button harder than you. It’s almost as physically tiring as, well, arm wrestling.
How it’s played – Take a spot at the table and button mash the other into oblivion. It takes a surprising amount of effort to overcome your buddy, so be prepared to switch fingers if you start to get tired.
What it adds –It breaks the tension at a weird time, but no other minigame will be as physically taxing. If you were feeling like you needed some exercise instead of bingeing A Way Out, this minigame is for you – assuming your partner is equally competitive.
Leo might be a brash hothead who would rather punch his way out of a jam, but that doesn’t mean he lacks a soft side. Early in their escape, Leo and Vincent seek solace in a nearby farmhouse. While there, the duo can take some time to play either the banjo or the piano. Playing one of these instruments launches you into a rhythm based minigame. Unlike the many others we came across, this was the only one that offered a difficulty selection.
How it’s played – Approach an instrument and button prompts will appear. Press the button as it nears the circle to (correctly) play a note. Standard rhythm game mechanics.
What it adds – Honestly, this one feels out of place. Given the context that Leo and Vincent come across the instruments, it feels like a strange time to start jamming. To its credit, it can be a fun challenge on the higher difficulty settings.
In one of the more bizarre moments of testosterone-fueled competition, Leo and Vincent take to wheelchairs to prove who has the better equilibrium. It’s a much less exciting use of the game’s meter system than its use in prison – and much more conspicuous. It injects some comedy into the game, as you watch two tough guys fall flat on their backs, even if the humor has absolutely no context in their current situation.
How it’s played – When you sit in a wheelchair, a u-shaped meter will appear. Hit the appropriate button near the center of the meter to maintain your balance longer than your comrade.
What it adds – Just like arm wrestling, this one feels out of place with what’s going on in the story at this time, but we all need comic relief, right?
Much in the same vein as wheelchair balancing – and in the same level – A Way Out lets you play a video game version of a board game inside of a video game. Need a minute to process that? Too bad, cops are coming. Better hurry up, connect four, then get back on the run.
How it’s played – Line up where you want to place a checker piece using the left stick, then press a button to drop it in. Connect four pieces before your friend does.
What it adds – Something to do in a waiting room, but would make more sense if there was actual waiting to be done in the waiting room.
Nothing speaks more about freedom than America’s favorite pastime. Leo and Vincent stumble across a couple of guys hitting some batting practice and politely ask if they can take a crack at it. This was one of the more challenging minigames in A Way Out. It’s hard to find the right timing when batting, especially when your partner mercilessly throws wicked sliders, but hitting a homer onto the nearby highway is one of the more satisfying minigames offered.
How it’s played – The pitcher will press a button and can control the pitch’s movement with the analog stick. The batter will press a button as the ball approaches, assuming the pitcher is throwing a strike.
What it adds – A sense of satisfaction when you finally hit a homerun. Something to tide us over until MLB: The Show comes out. Or RBI Baseball, if that appeals to you.
Leo’s reunion with his family is one of the more touching moments in A Way Out, complete with a friendly father and son – and Vincent – game of basketball. The three boys head out to a nearby court to shoot some hoops on the 7-foot basket. Few minigames on this list feel they’re in the right place at the right time, but this one’s a slam dunk.
How it’s played – One button to pass, another to shoot. Running towards the hoop and pressing the shoot button when close lets you bring out your inner Jordan and dunk.
What it adds – Finally, a minigame that appears at the right time and propels the story that A Way Out is telling. Plus, you can pull off some really awkward dunks.
To see what we thought of A Way Out beyond the minigames, check out our review. If you want to read more about minigames, check out this article about what minigames get right and wrong in the Zelda series.