Game Review: The Artful Escape (Xbox Series X)

The Artful Escape is a rhythm/platformer video game that was developed by Beethoven & Dinosaur, releasing in 2021. You’re Francis Vendetti, a teenage guitar prodigy who sets out on a psychedelic journey to inspire his stage persona and confront the legacy of a dead folk legend.

The fictional town of Calypso is the birthplace of the deceased folk-music legend, Johnson Vendetti. On the 20th anniversary of his ground-breaking album during the 1970s, the town is holding a large festival. Johnson’s nephew, Francis Vendetti, is expected to play Johnson’s folk songs at a concert. However, Francis struggles with living in the shadow of his uncle and follow folk music when he really wants to play rock music.

The day before the concert, he meets Violetta. She tells Francis to look for Lightman’s before she heads off, despite Francis not knowing of any such place in Calypso. That night, Francis is visited by an alien Zomm who tells him he must meet Lightman. He follows Zomm to find Lightman, a guitarist that says he needs Francis to play as his opening act. Francis follows them and finds himself in the Cosmic Extraordinary as they head towards the Cosmic Lung, Lightman’s ship. Once there, Lightman explains that to travel through the Cosmic Extraordinary, they need to put on a show for the Glamourgonn to gain clearance for the next station. This will be the only way Francis will be able to get back to Calypso in time for the concert.Buy Me a Coffee at

In The Artful Escape, the gameplay is simple. You control Francis in moving him across a musical-infused landscape. Besides running and jumping, Francis has a guitar which he can play to create various effects, such as interacting with the scenery or facing boss characters. You “battle” them through simplistic rhythm based button pressing.

The Artful Escape is an absolute blast to play through. The eccentric gameplay, visuals and story attack the senses. To call it all sensory overload feels like a major understatement. I found it all to be a mesmerizing feast for the eyes and ears. Throughout your intergalactic journey you visit a variety of fantastical landscapes. I loved the sense of scale and depth to the backgrounds. Witnessing them come to life in the distance as you shred your axe is simply euphoric.

The story is a simple one. It isn’t hard to relate to why Francis feels the way that he does. He wants to walk his own path and not just be some cheap imitation of his uncle. It sets the tone well but could have gone a bit more in depth. The quirkiness really shines through in the dialogue which is voiced by some surprising names such as; Carl Weathers & Len Headey. I enjoyed the few opportunities the game gives you to tailor the experience to youself with some choices regarding your name, origin and even allowing you to change how Francis looks.

The gameplay will be a divisive element for a lot of people. Firstly, you’re never really doing a whole lot. There’s some basic platforming sections but you’re essentially just going from one side of the screen to the other with few obstacles. Once there, you’ll encounter the rhythm battles. Battle might be a strong word because you simply just copy the button presses on screen. There isn’t even consequences if you fail, just try and try again until you get it. Some may struggle with the memorisation but it’s pretty damn simple.

Based on the above, The Artful Escape is more of an interactive story. If you’re not feeling the bizarre nature of proceedings then you’ll have a poor experience. I loved it but that won’t be the same for everyone. I like to play games that don’t stress or challenge me from time to time so I was satisfied.

Also, if the sound of screeching electric guitars isn’t your thing then look elsewhere. Additionally, the game is short. As I usually say, if I had paid full price for the game I may feel short-changed. However, as this is on Game Pass that complaint is invalid.

Overall, The Artful Escape is a really unique experience. One that I won’t quickly forget because sliding down a steep hill, shredding a guitar while fireworks, lasers and vibrantly beautiful backdrops flourish around you is pretty damn memorable.


  • Liam Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Typical 90s-00s kid; raised on Pokémon, Final Fantasy & the Attitude Era. In fact, that makes up about 99% of my personality. The remaining 1% is dedicated to my inner rage for people who still don’t understand the ending of Lost or those that enjoyed the Game of Thrones final season. Find me on GBHBL where I’ll most likely be reviewing horror movies or games. Also, see me on our YouTube channel!

The Artful Escape
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