The Escapists 2
I’ve often wondered why there haven’t been any games that dealt with breaking out of prisons. So much of our American culture is inundated by prison culture, whether it be great prison-breaking films such as Escape from Alcatraz, or The Shawshank Redemption, numerous books about the genre, or tons and tons of reality TV shows and documentaries that are based on prison life, prison gangs, etc. They even have reality TV shows that spotlight how new inmates show up for their first days of prison, and what happens to them from there (which is never good). To put it bluntly, our culture is consumed with prisons and prison life.
Well, indie game developer Moldy Toof has stepped in to fill the gap, so to speak. The Escapists 2 is a whimsical and humorous take on prison life, with the ultimate goal of…wait for it…escaping prisons! (I know, you couldn’t have guessed). I played the original game, The Escapists, and really liked it. But part deux definitely has definitely moved the series forward in several ways.
In The Escapists 2, you star as a little, cute, big-headed character (from an isometric perspective) who has just arrived at a prison. Actually, only three prisons are available for players from the outset (there are eleven in all), and the other seven can be unlocked later, granted you escape the beginning prisons. One of the first improvements that I noticed about The Escapists 2 is that it now supports multiplayer, so you can either play against other real live humans in its adversarial mode, or (my favorite!) indulge in a little co-op action, which I think is how the game should be played (for maximum joy-joy happiness).
Although the graphics have been bumped up considerably, it’s within the game mechanics themselves where The Escapists 2 really shines. This time, you’re going to have to deal with multifaceted routines that break up the monotony of your drab prison existence.
For instance, in the mornings you’ll wake up and immediately be summoned to the a.m. rollcall. After that, you’ll be expected to attend the morning breakfast/slop dispenser session, and after a short bit of time, go and perform some sort of trade-based job. If you’re not where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there, the prison’s security level will increase.
You can also take on all sorts of tasks by approaching fellow inmates. Some of these are very menial and relatively unimportant, such as delivering X to inmate Y. However, you can also accept more challenging missions or tasks which can be hazardous to your health, but pay a lot more. With the money that you earn you can purchase all sorts of weapons, equipment, or prison-breaking items. Or, you can simply craft what you need instead.
The Escapists 2 features a robust crafting system that lets your manufacture anything from special edibles, to shanks, all the way up to prison-breaking tools such as pickaxes and shovels. Since many of the doors within each of the prisons are color-coded, you can also craft special keys which can unlock these barriers to the more off-limits areas.
You just have to be careful, however, as if any guards in the area you’re in spot you performing your dastardly deeds, they will get suspicious and approach you for some up-close surveillance. If your personal security threat rating gets too high, you could even catch a severe beat-down.
Fellow inmates may also have it in for you as well. For instance, there were several times when my character (unbeknownst to me) became the target of a beat-down, and was set upon during one of the mealtimes, or in the showers. There are also other, more devious methods that they can utilize, such as planting illegal or contraband items within your cell in order to sabotage you and frame you up. Therefore, even though you’ll constantly be looking for ways to escape the prison you’re stuck in, you’ll also need to keep a beady eye on your fellow inmates.
As previously mentioned, The Escapists 2’s tone is rather light and silly, which falls in sharp contrast to its depressing subject matter. This is both good and bad. On the plus side, it doesn’t make you feel depressed and forlorn about your circumstances. On the other side of the coin, I feel that it subtly minimizes what the prison experience must be like. For instance, in The Escapists 2 you can’t die. That sort of threw me off because not only is it far from realistic, but it lowers both the challenge as well as the fear factor.
There are also new prisons called Transport Prisons. These are literally gigantic moving cages that are on their way to deliver you to some unwanted, final destination. Therefore, you have to really use your wits in order to escape from these prisons since there is a time limit linked to them. Add to that the fact that these prisons are, by design, much more enclosed, and you won’t have a lot of places to hide from the prison’s guards. This really ratchets up the difficulty considerably, and makes for much more tense situations, since you have to constantly be putting your escape plans into action.
The Escapists 2 is a worthy successor to the excellent first game. If offers a lot of improvements over the original, including multiplayer support, more items to craft, lots and lots of missions to take on, and more ways to break out of prisons. Try it out if you’re a fan of prison-break themes or just like the challenge of outwitting your opponents.
The Escapists 2 features great graphics that make its prison-break theme come alive. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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