The Escapists is an awesome 8-bit styled game about breaking out of prison. You could call it Prison Escape Simulator 2015, but that would unfairly classify it in that “genre” of games when it’s much more fun than that.
You start the game in a mini tutorial where you get introduced to many of the technical aspects of the game you’ll need to play; crafting tools, using them, and ultimately escaping prison…up until you get caught! So the name of the game is breaking out, but to do that you’ve got to systematically maintain your role as an inmate but also slowly work to develop a plan to escape. Things like daily role call and meal times you don’t want to miss as the guards will start wondering where you’re off to. Sneaking into other inmates cells will only lower your cred with inmates, so there is a nice balance of what can I steal or how many favors will you need to do in order to obtain tools to escape.
Aside from the whole break out of prison thing, you’ve got to keep your wits about you. This is prison, well, virtual prison. Things like exercising and stamina are in-game stats your character has, and should keep maintained to avoid a trip to the infirmary. The stronger your character is, the better you’ll fight which means you won’t get knocked out and your fellow inmate will. But hey, keep it to a minimum. You’ll need those inmates to be friendly so you can buy or do favors for them. Or if you’d rather, money you’ve earned you can gift to them (as well as items) to boost your reputation with them. Be careful though, I thought giving an inmate a dirty guard uniform would be a good idea so that he could maybe try and sneak out…lost ALL my cred with him. But a clean uniform is solid. Just make sure you get the inmate job for laundry duty.
The job mechanics are pretty straight forward. Do your job, make your quota, keep out of trouble. Some jobs require higher intellect, another in-game stat you’ll need to keep aware of. “Learning” at the computer stations will raise your intellect, but watching tv in your cell will diminish your intellect. (Side note: who knew you’d get tv in your prison cell!?) The jobs come with perks, as you’ll be able to sneak yourself extra tools or gear from whatever your job is, in order to craft tools/items for escape. That’s the beauty of the game. You won’t simply just find a shovel and a pick axe, but find yourself a sheet of steel from the license plate making area, and a broom handle, and maybe you can fashion yourself something to work with. Be careful though, every roll call they randomly ransack someones cell, and take any contraband you have.
While I’ve managed to aggravate every guard and inmate in prison, I’ve learned some of the finer intricacies of gathering tools and crafting items. Don’t just make slow progress and think you’re okay. You’ve got to start thinking about making fake items to put in place so nobody suspects anything. Otherwise you’ll find yourself in solitary like I did….several times. Befriending an inmate just to have to beat them up for another inmate’s favor is also a bit frustrating, as the balance of gaining cred with another inmate at the cost of having one hate you is a bit of a struggle. That’s the prison life though! Or at least, that’s The Escapists. There are several prisons to escape from that you’ll unlock (unlocking prisons seems like something you’d want to avoid, but hey it’s a game!) and obviously you can replay an existing prison and it’ll give you new inmates, guards, and you’re back at square one. A really fun thing you have the option to do is rename the inmates and guards. I made one “officer butts.” Heh. Moving on.
What do I think overall: I think it’s fun as hell, provides hours of content, and the variety of methods of crafting items and tools, bartering with other inmates, and nuances of trying to slowly build up a stash of items at the risk you could lose it all is pretty dynamic. Plus couple that with having to be present at required events so as to not alert the guards you’re planning a break is neat too. Don’t forget to show up for breakfast though, that’ll really set them off.
I like the game, it’s silly in it’s 8-bit styling, and just serious enough to be fun and challenging for a wide range of enjoyment for most gamers. It’s available on Steam (PC Only) for $17.99 and also on the Xbox One for $19.99.
Written by Andrew (@soafterisaid)
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