From Prison break to the great escape, everyone loves the idea of a carefully constructed plan to escape a prison, and when the Escapists first appeared 2 years ago, gamers fell in love with the simplicity of the presentation with the depth of the gameplay.
A stretch behind bars and now we have The Escapists 2 from Mouldy Tooth Studios and Team 17….
The Escapists is a pretty unique title, once you’ve chosen whether or not to customise a few of the inmates, you find yourself locked up behind bars with the sole quest of escaping this hell hole.
The tutorial level ‘Precinct 17’ is short, sweet and does a great job of explaining the basics, while the first major prison, is a return of Centre Perks, now known as 2.0 after a rebuild due to the unfathomable amount of escapes.
This paves way for the larger and more detailed prisons you’ll find, as well as the many themed prisons such as on a train, boat, inside the wild west or even
Area 51 Area 17.
Each in-game day is made up of sections, you’ll start off with roll-call, followed by breakfast, some free-time and then later in the day, lunch, time for jobs and exercising.
When you’ve shown you’re face you get a small green tick to show you’ve been seen and are free to carry on raiding other cells for goodies, or spending some extra time in the exercise area to build up your strength or fitness. along with Intellect (from reading) you’ll want to improve your stat’s as these will help for those forthcoming long nights, fighting guards or crafting items.
You’ll want to pull together a plan on how to escape and then you can either raise money from getting a job or running errands for other prisoners, or you can save the hassle and try to craft the necessary tools yourself from gear you’ve ‘acquired’ from other inmates or guards.
There’s a wide range of things to try, from a simple dig outside and cut through the fence, to more elaborate escapes using grappling hooks and cloned key-cards, but the best way, which is coincidentally The Escapists 2’s best new addition, is to have a few friends help you out, I spent the best part of a week (about 2 hours real-time) with Colin (WatchLoki) and Stuart (GamingDadXB) working together to get the equipment we wanted to escape,
I’d concentrate on intellect, crafting items, while Stuart took a fancy to other prisoners bed sheets, and Colin, I presume was running a diversion because he managed to miss most of the roll-call’s,
I’m sure a well structured tactical team could escape the prison in minutes, but we didn’t get any further by the 7th day, but it was fantastic fun. There’s also a versus ‘Who can escape first’ mode, but I much preferred the team work.
We did encounter a few server issues, but it’s early days, and I’m sure these will be ironed out with a post-launch bug.
O.k, on to the graphics. I’ll start off with explaining my hatred for retro-pixel art, for years and years I’ve played dozens, even hundreds of games highlighting ‘pixel art’ as some sort of feature, connecting retro-gameplay to old-fashioned or lazy appearance, I’ve long become sick of games that think it’s okay to throw 8-bit pixels at us as an excuse for not trying harder.
So while I loved the original Escapists, like many other games I felt that more could have been done graphically, and now, three years on, If I want to point out to a developer how Pixel art should be done, The Escapists 2 will be a perfect example….
Still a very retro-feel, but well drawn, properly shaded and perfectly presented visuals, overall detail and presentation is significantly better and the Escapists 2 enhances pixel-art into a much more modern looking, but equally retro feeling title.
The sound is really only background as the majority of the presentation is done through text and aesthetics, but the soundtrack keeps your ears busy without distraction and the oomphs, bumps, and thuds all work well to audibly describe what’s going off on screen.
The Escapists 2 will test your patience, If you’re expecting to escape every prison in a few days you’ll be sorely mistaken, but take your time, learn the prison and plan your escape, and you’ll find a refreshing reward and feeling of achievement when your plan comes together, it’s well worth the modest price tag of only £16.99.
Escaping prisons reward you with a key and a special customisation item, while collecting keys will unlock more of the 10 available prisons, there’s also a £7.99 season pass which will give 3 further prisons which will be sold separately for £3.59 each.
It’s worth mentioning there are a handful of bugs that have been mentioned, however apart from the server issues, I’ve not experienced any myself and can only guess they’re infrequent and also likely to be patched quicker than you can break for freedom.
Bottom Line :
Team 17 and the Escapists return with a fantastic sequel that answers the few critics of the first game while still bringing enough new to the table to make it a worthwhile addition. A special mention has to be made for co-operative escapes, with a group of friends, it’s great fun trying to plot your escape (or make a run for it while they’re distracted)
Fans of the original will definitely want to pick this one up, and those few who missed the first game now have an even better package to entice them into the Prison break genre.
Gameplay : 8.5
Graphics : 8.5
Sound : 8
Story : 8
Value : 8.5