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ar-k the great escape

AR-K: The Great Escape is a point-and-click adventure and the third installment within the AR-K series. Developed and published by Gato Salvaje, the game focuses on the events unfolding after Alicia, the main character, is captured by the police and brought into District 8 to work in the factories powering the AR-K. Sadly, the game fails to properly mention Alicia’s past or to provide new players with a broader view of the events preceding this chapter, forcing you to do your own research or to purchase the previous episodes if you want to better understand the story.

As many other point-and-click titles, AR-K: The Great Escape relies on you exploring and analyzing your surroundings solving puzzles in order to progress. Almost all of the puzzles within this title revolve around asking the right question and tinkering with items in your inventory. In what seems like an endless fetch quest, Alicia will usually find herself having to run throughout the facility while dealing with often vague or incomplete hints in order to proceed through the story, reducing the experience to little more than continuous trial-and-error, with some of the hints being weirdly placed and unnaturally flowing out of some character’s mouth and with often no clue on the whereabouts of the items she is asked to interact with. The introduction of the PDA, a communication device that allows you to interact with some of your companions, is a slight variation on the topic, as some of the other characters can, in specific situations, be asked to intervene to help you solve a puzzle, give you a hint or distract an enemy. A map is also added to your PDA later through the game, allowing you to quickly move from one stage to the other. The game includes one segment in which you have to do some detective work and question different characters in an attempt to catch the culprit in a cold case, even though that is reduced to simply listening to their statements and making a guess, which is not enough to render AR-K: The Great Escape and enjoyable puzzle-solving adventure.

ar-k the great escape char interation
Alicia asks the factory Overseer how to sabotage the facility. Why would he even tell you that?

AR-K: The great escape Looks Dated and fails to keep you interested.

While some of the most inexperienced indie developers decide to dedicate the majority of their work to the aesthetic qualities of their titles, it seems like that wasn’t the case for AR-K: The Great Escape. The game not only features a rather dull puzzle system, but also looks and sounds unappealing. Dated graphics, even for the cartoonish style the developer decided to go for, depict each area in shades of green and gray with the occasional red, blue, or yellow; and details are reduced to the bare minimum. While an improvement over the previous chapters, the graphics remain far from what you’d expect from an indie game developer.

Sound effects are qualitatively better, but seem to be placed randomly most of the times. This results, for example, in the residential areas seeing groups of people scattered around but with no environmental sounds, or the shady streets and canals behind the Black Market featuring a complex smooth, jazz soundtrack that would have been better suited for a major airline waiting lounge.

If the aim of AR-K: The Great Escape was to make you feel like you were an active part of Alicia’s quest for freedom, these aesthetic choices, in addition to the fact that the game tends to lag during those cutscenes that would give you the background needed to understand your actions, have the effect of creating a barrier between you and the story, rather than reeling you in.

The voice-over work, designed to perfectly reflect the mood of each character you talk to and to underline hidden shades of their personality, as well as the occasional breaches of the fourth wall, when Alicia herself asks you if you “REALLY have to click on everything,” or when a character refers to you as the “fascinating protagonist” or to themselves as “just another NPC.” These would’ve helped in making this game an enthralling one, but are just drowned out by the rest of the aesthetic choices.

AR-K: the great escape graphics dated
Graphics look dated and lack in definition and details, further decreasing the feeling of immersion

AR-K: The Great Escape is a game that doesn’t satisfy the expectations. Were it the first from the series, it could have been considered as a test aimed at further developing the franchise. After three episodes, the stuttering progression, slowed down by the continuous need to backtrack,  and the series of inconclusive hints, only seems to be there to water your playthrough down and makes this particular title one that you struggle to finish. A subsequent playthrough highlights how easy most of the puzzles were and leaves you wondering why you weren’t given enough information to solve them in the first place. The forgettable audio and graphics, as well as the not-so-interesting storyline, only at times able to capture you and allow you to fully appreciate the current events, further contribute to making the game one that should only be purchased if the others have been played. It is a game that is best played as part of a bundle, and one that will quickly be forgotten among the many in your Steam library. If what you are looking for is an exciting point-and-click adventure with plenty of replayability, AR-K: The Great Escape, due to its lack of dynamism and the overall short time you’ll need to finish it, definitely isn’t for you.

Review 0
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Pros
+ Some dialogues make the game slightly enjoyable. + Voice-over captures the mood and thoughts of most characters.
Cons
- Dated graphics. - Randomly placed sound effects. - Game feels like an endless fetch quest. - Little references to previous chapter. - Dull puzzles requiring trial and error to be solved.
Criterion 14
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A PC copy of AR-K: The Great Escape was provided by the developer. To learn more about our score, read our review policy.

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Alessandro has been a gaming enthusiast since the age of five. Gaming his way through different platforms and their evolution, he acquired extensive knowledge of the gaming industry and the world surrounding it. He’s been covering the topic on different outlets, mainly focusing on Indie and smaller titles.