The game centers on the character of Francis Vendetti, the nephew of a deceased folk-music legend, Johnson Vendetti. Though a musician like his uncle, Francis struggles under the influence of his genealogical relationship to his uncle on his own career. Before his first public concert, he sets off on a journey not only geographically to get away from London, but to also create a new identity for himself to completely stand out from his uncle.

The Artful Escape is a platform game, where the player controls 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 creating platforms or facing against boss characters. During the game, the player will encounter creatures that they can study to obtain a sound sample that they can use with others they have collected to create their own soundtrack for the game.

The Artful Escape was conceived of by Johnny "Galvatron", one of the founding members and lead guitarist of the band The Galvatrons. Prior to forming the band, Galvatron had studied film and computer animation in college in Melbourne, Australia, but then formed The Galvatrons and had a record deal with Warner Bros. shortly after graduation. During the nearly ten years he spent with the band, he also continued his interest in video games, submitted some articles for various publications and creating small games based on the band's music while they toured Australia and the United Kingdom. Galvatron grew weary from the long tours and had been drawn more into the artistic goals. The band eventually went on hiatus, which allowed Galvatron to pursue other creative efforts, including writing a book, creating a short film, and eventually into game development.

The Artful Escape, as described by Galvatron, is a story in the vein of "David Bowie traveling off from London on an interstellar trip to create Ziggy Stardust". In addition to Bowie, Galvatron cited works by Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson and Steven Spielberg to help establish the art style he used for the game, as well as using his own experiences from the music touring and the music industry. Some of the character and world designs are based on doodles that Galvatron made in his school books when he was younger. Johnson Vendetti is based on folk music legend Bob Dylan, according to Galvatron.

Galvatron formed Beethoven & Dinosaur, an Australian studio, to work on the game. The studio includes composer Josh Abrahams and programmers Justin Blackwell and Sean Slevin. The studio received $17,000 from an Unreal Dev Grant from Epic Games for The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti in June 2015 to help them develop the title on the Unreal Engine 4. The studio then got approval through the Steam Greenlight program for publishing on the Steam platform in the following month. The studio launched a Kickstarter in March 2016 to secure about $35,000 in additional funds for completing the Microsoft Windows and OS X version of the game. However, the Kickstarter failed to raise sufficient funds, but the studio was able to secure a publication deal with Annapurna Interactive to continue development of the game, and allowing for development of console versions on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The game, still under the name The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti, was first shown in playable form at PAX East during March 2017. The game had a larger reveal during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017 that June as a featured title in Microsoft's press conference, where it was revealed that the game would have a console-exclusive release on the Xbox One.

Beethoven & Dinosaur were the recipients of a small business grant from the City of Melbourne in 2017.