AR-K Episode 3: The Great Escape Review
AR-K Episode 3: The Great Escape Review
The story is engaging, environments and dialogues are well-done and the puzzles are fun to solve
Posted: 11/11/15 | Category: Review | Developer: Gato Salvaje S.L. | Publisher: Gato Salvaje S.L. | Platform: Mac, Iphone, Ipad, Windows, Android

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure
Release date: July 14, 2015

Like many adventure gamers, I've become increasingly used to playing episodic games. One thing I've always wondered was what it would be like playing an episodic game by starting the game at the middle of the story. Actually, many episodic games market themselves by exploiting this idea by saying something like “This episode continues the story but it can also be played independently;” yet I was never brave enough to start playing a series from Episode 2. I finally got the chance to try this with AR-K Episode 3: The Great Escape, and to my surprise I rather enjoyed it despite having not played the previous episodes.

Well actually, AR-K: The Great Escape is not very gentle towards newcomers in the beginning. There is a video sequence that summarizes the events in the first two episodes, but the video quality is very low and it seems as if developers chose to ignore some key moments of the story. After the end of video I was full of questions such as “Why is this golden sphere important?,” and “What is the quest of the main character?” However, it later turns out that the main plot of this episode is not strongly dependent on the previous episodes, hence you can play and enjoy this game without knowing much about the previous events. I definitely did, although I would have appreciated a more exploratory “previously in AR-K” video.

Break Free

The story is a basic prison break plot in the sense that you’re confined in a well-protected place and need to solve a mix of dialogue and inventory puzzles in order to break free. Our protagonist Alicia finds herself trapped in an underground facility, where people are enslaved by officers of the government to produce energy for the utopian city of AR-K. Alicia (and the rest of the citizens of AR-K) always thought AR-K was running on some advanced technology that didn't require labor, hence she is completely taken by surprise when she discovers that such a facility exists. She also finds herself forced to work in the factory, and she soon starts plotting an escape plan that involves sabotaging the facility with the help of her friends.  

Although the story isn't anything we haven’t seen before (Escape is a popular theme in adventure games), the implementation of the idea is executed very well. What begins as a quest to figure out a way out of the facility soon evolves into tricking guards, bartering black market items, finding a love interest for a mad scientist and even solving a cold murder case. I was impressed by the writers’ ability to pack so much story into a 4-hour game. The ending is also well done, and finishes the game on a high note, while teasing the story for the upcoming episode, while teasing the story for the upcoming episode.

Actually, I later found out that the story was written by four-time Eisner Award winner Greg Rucka, well known for his work on Marvel & DC comics in sagas such as Batwoman, Wolverine or Gotham Central, as well as having been the chosen screenwriter for the upcoming Star Wars comics. I think that explains why the story is one of the best parts of the game. I was also glad to hear that he'll be working on the next installment of the series as well.

Characters You Like and To Whom You Can Relate

One thing AR-K really succeeds at is making you feel as though you're part of a living environment. Every person you meet has some interesting backstory, and it’s a lot of fun getting to know these people and discovering their relationships with each other. Alicia is also a likeable character. I like that there is a clear emphasis on her feminine side. The standard female protagonists in adventure games are usually portrayed as “strong, highly intelligent and independent women,” hence it's a welcome break to have played a more feminine character.

The Puzzles

Puzzles involve a variety of different challenges and there’s an in-built hint system that’s integrated into your PDA. When you get stuck, you can click a hotspot with your PDA and your anthropomorphic friend Frank will sometimes help you with how to overcome the obstacles. The puzzles in the beginning are trivially easy, but they get a bit more challenging towards the end of the game. I was especially pleased with the one that requires cross checking notes from several dialogues and applying deduction techniques to solve a murder case.

Audio and Visuals

Another highlight of the game is the voice acting. All characters are voiced really well; Alicia and Franky in particular. I also like that aliens and robots are voiced with some gibberish and you need to read the subtitles to figure out what they’re saying. It definitely makes the atmosphere much more authentic.

The only negative aspect of the game are the production values. Animations are clunky and the graphics look very outdated. However, since the storytelling and the puzzles are satisfactory, the quality of the graphics don’t distract much from your enjoyment of the game . 

The Bottom Line

Overall, I enjoyed The Great Escape despite not having played the previous episodes in the series. The story is engaging, the environments and dialogue are well-done and the puzzles are fun to solve. If you're looking for a short and solid point-and-click adventure, I would recommend checking out AR-K: The Great Escape. It makes me curious about the previous chapters and I'm planning on checking them out soon. I'm also looking forward to playing the next (and apparently final) installment to see how the story concludes. 

Engaging story and characters
+ Puzzles with good balance on difficulty and variety
Short gameplay
- Graphics and animations are sub-par
- The intro video does not explain the previous events well
System Requirements
OS: Windows 7/8/8.1
Processor: Intel/AMD Dual Core or similar
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: 1 GB
Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
OS: Mac OS X
Processor: Intel Dual Core
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: 1 GB
Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
Specials from Digital Download
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