As anyone who's ever seen The Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, or The Great Escape will tell you, prison breaks are rather tricky.
Imagine how much trickier they'd be if the escapee was missing a limb.
That's the odd premise of P.A.C.O., though it appears to be a somewhat flimsy cover story for a rather straight forward one-button reactions test.Boom boom!
Control switches across four members of the One Armed Bandits crew, all distinguished by having a single arm. The whole one-armed thing appears to be an elaborate set-up for this one groansome pun.
Whichever member of the team you're controlling, the idea is to ascend a staccato arrangement of ladders dropped from above. As you reach the top of each ladder, you must time your screen press to hop across to the next one.
Press to early and you'll fall short, sending your scarpering crook back to the clink. Press too late and the guard in hot pursuit will catch up to you.Completing a sentence
Despite the quirky setting and some pleasantly stylised graphics, P.A.C.O.'s gameplay really is that simple.
Any lingering interest comes, as is so often the case these days, from the sheer difficulty of its core mechanic. The margin for error here is punishingly slight, and it will take many successive tries before your hop-count even hits double figures.
The thing I always ask myself when playing this sort of super-distilled mobile game is, is the game actually fun to play, or does it lean solely on the stubborn desire to best your previous pathetic high-score - and the ease with which said new round can be initiated?
In P.A.C.O.'s case, I have to conclude that the latter is largely the case.
There's a certain pleasure in feeling out the required jump-off point. But it's mainly an exercise in burning a single precise input into your muscle memory. And I, for one, have played more than enough of that sort of thing already.