The ultimate prison-break sandbox gets a sequel with The Escapists 2. Check out our own KGK James’ review to see if this game improves on the original or struggles to break out of the first games shadow.
Just like the original game (which I must say has a very close spot in my heart for its amazing gameplay and fun art style) The Escapists 2 has one of the best premises in all of gaming. Exploring, devising, and executing a prison escape is an idea ripe for video games and while there can be some intense moments and a satisfying conclusion to your escape, The Escapists 2 real flaw is let down by some annoying menus and just like the first throws you in the deep end a little bit too fast. Let’s get into the ins and outs of the Escapists 2
Breaking Out of the Mold
The Escapists 2 kicks off with of course a tutorial If your tough like the rest of us you can usually skip this bit. However if you’re not too familiar on the series your best going ahead and spending 5 minutes of your time to really learn the game and its unique set of mechanics it has to offer. There really is no series like The Escapists and the tutorial took me about 1run to help me fully grasp how to play the game since I knew most of the mechanics from the first instalment. While most games have some sort of semblance to another title that makes it easier to figure out how to control the game, this title is so unique that I felt like I was struggling to really understand the best plan. While I respect how quickly the developer wants to get the player into the action, the short length of the tutorial means that there is a huge overload of information.
Once you reach max stars you will have to find a way to escape or risk losing all your hard work and getting caught and starting all over again.
When starting a new game in any of the available prisons, you're going to want to spend the first day getting a feel for the prison's schedule. You must attend roll call early in the morning or the prison will go into lockdown and missing other appointments in the prison like one of your three meals, exercise, shower time, or work will make the guards more and more suspicious. In the coming days, you'll need to make use of your available free time, as well as make judgment calls about when it's appropriate to break away from the schedule, to devise an escape plan, acquire/craft the needed tools, and execute your breakout. The tools can either be stolen from the cells of fellow inmates or bought with money earned by doing odd jobs for the prison or prisoners.
"With this year’s release brought 4 player Co-op a highly requested feature from last year’s instalment".
This is a great setup but The Escapists 2 is NOT an easy game to play, especially when you're alone. Adding another player into the mix makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Coordinating an escape plan with a friend means that you can cut the time it takes to scavage for supplies in half. If you're planning to cut through a fence and dig to freedom you will need nail files, duct tape, and metal sheets which can take an annoying amount of busywork to acquire. Most slip ups will bring the wrath of the security guards upon you and force you into solitary confinement while also removing any contraband in your inventory. Of course, actually finding that freedom is so thrilling and satisfying because of the challenge but when you lose every inch of progress and find yourself back to square one it's more frustrating than anything. Navigating the game's menus isn't often intuitive and when you quickly need to hide a dangerous item before a guard sees you, it's frustrating to be caught because of how slowly you'll make the right selection.
Standard Issue Orange Jumpsuit
The Escapist 2 continues the retro art style of the previous game and is visually similar to an NES game like the original Final Fantasy, but obviously with a more diverse colour palette and a lot more detail. Where you're going to see the most personality in The Escapists 2 is the game's writing. The guards are constantly referencing other games or are making darkly tongue-in-cheek jokes, the game's first main prison puts players across from a therapist who just berates the player for an hour's worth of game time before sending you on your way with 15 coins in your pocket, this prison's version of your job time.
The game's atmosphere brought a smile to my face during the opening tutorial as well as the tutorial's protagonist recalls his prison break from the comfort of a beach -- and also makes the game look easy. I'm unfamiliar with the first title so I can't speak to how this new game has evolved but I hope to see more from this series. If future titles can trim the fat, streamline the experience, and really evolve the gameplay I'd be more than happy to play The Escapists 3.
Final Rating 3.5/5