This will probably be as much of a shock to you as it was to us, but getaway chases don’t really work the way they do in the movies. In fiction, fleeing the scene of a crime is a high-octane thrill ride, with police cars and getaway vehicles weaving in and out of dangerously narrow alleyways and leaping over death-defying chasms. In real life, things are usually a little more sober; police will roll out the spike strips, arrange themselves in a logical fashion and wait for the driver to spring the trap.
One part of the getaway process nobody talks about, though, is the race from the scene of the crime to the getaway car. So much can happen in those brief few minutes; double-crossing, unexpected obstacles, police resistance. That gap between committing the crime and reaching the truck could be the difference between fleeing with your hard-earned cash and being apprehended by the long arm of the law.
That’s where Getaway Shootout comes in. Getaway Shootout is the latest title from New Eich Games, a pseudonym for a one-man development outfit based in Minnesota. The game continues the pixel art aesthetic which New Eich favors for all of their titles; if you’ve played Rooftop Snipers or Tube Jumpers, then the visuals and presentation of Getaway Shootout will probably be pretty familiar to you.
Getaway Shootout takes place in that hallowed time between committing a crime and ensconcing oneself in the armored car of freedom. The player takes control of one of four unlucky criminals, each of whom appears to have decided to stab the others in the back in order to reach safety. There’s only one spot on the hallowed escape vehicle, so each of these four individuals has to use cunning and wit to outsmart their opponents and think one step ahead of them.
Just kidding. Getaway Shootout is a hilarious romp, not a cerebral puzzler. Every Getaway Shootout game you play will inevitably descend into flopping ineffectually around a single ankle-high box as your criminal cohort bundles into an elevator, leaving you pathetically firing bullets at the space where they used to be. This game isn’t so much about the winning as the taking part; you might not be victorious every time you play, but we’ll be darned if it isn’t great fun just to be involved.
That’s partly due to the unique control scheme. Getaway Shootout’s controls are simultaneously fairly complex and incredibly simple. Your criminal is capable only of jumping; you can’t move unless it’s to jump, and there aren’t any other controls besides the power-up button (which we’ll come to later). One key jumps left, the other jumps right, and the length of time for which the key is held determines the speed and power of the jump.
Thanks to New Eich’s solid design philosophy, though, the stages really feel like they’ve been crafted around this mechanic. This is one of those games that’ll have you rethinking your relationship with fairly simple level design; what would be an easy manoeuvre to get into an approaching elevator turns into a fight to the death, while surmounting a small generator on the ground could mean the difference between victory and defeat. If you want to win a game of Getaway Shootout, you’ll need to understand the controls and how your character is going to move long before you decide to make that jump.
Luckily, even if you don’t win, Getaway Shootout is a riotous joy to play. Four character models leaping stupidly around a stage is just great fun to watch, but it’s not just slapstick antics on show here. Getaway Shootout also features a plethora of power-ups for your no-good criminal to collect and use on your enemies. There’s a pistol, which fires fairly quickly but doesn’t kill enemies outright; a rocket launcher, which deals splash damage, so you’d better make sure you’re out of its range; a sniper rifle, which only has two shots but each of them is a guaranteed kill if they land; and many more to discover and experiment with.
These powerups transform the game into a madcap scramble for supremacy. You won’t have any time to get used to the controls at first, because the AI is merciless and won’t pull its punches when it comes to gettin’ you dead. In practice, this means you’re probably better off focusing on the multiplayer mode to begin with, at least because that means you’ll have another human being to share in your abject (but pretty darn funny) failure. The single-player mode is great, too, but it’s pretty brutal and unforgiving; the multiplayer mode feels like the real star of the show here.
Each game of Getaway Shootout is won by the first person to reach 3 getaways, but the game isn’t really about that; it manages to hit that sweet spot where winning feels good, but losing doesn’t feel bad, because you’ve had a great time along the way. Well-implemented powerups, an intriguing and hilarious control scheme, and an affectionate ‘80s-inspired action movie aesthetic (which reminded us of Not A Hero) all go together to create the perfect multiplayer time-wasting tool. Getaway Shootout isn’t here for a long time, just a good time, but its solid design makes for a clean getaway.