The Escapists 2 is developer Team 17’s follow up to their sleeper hit from 2015. Personally, I am yet to find a game in this current console generation that hooked me in as much as The Escapists did. Fans of the prison escape sim will be delighted to know that the sequel has more of the same with a few welcome additions and tweaks.
Just as before the goal of each level is to escape the prison by gathering supplies, finding weaknesses and watching patrol patterns. The key to escape is to conform to the routine each day and pick your moments. Roll call, lunch, job time, lights outs etc all must be attended or the prison will go into Lockdown and you will be hunted down. Blend in.
Most of your time is spent dealing with the monotonous routine of prison life. While some find this a little tedious I think this makes the game. Isn’t that the whole point? You are a prisoner after all. The free time you get is used to “case the joint”. There are multiple ways to break out of the standard prisons, it’s up to you to figure it out. The game does not hold your hand. In fact it batters it if you mess up. It’s all or nothing.
The game is filled with items to gather to aid in your escape, you just have to “borrow” them from around the prison and in your fellow inmates cells. Many inmates may also be willing to sell you hot ticket items if you help them out with some minor quests. Crafting plays a huge role in The Escapists 2. You need to craft vital items like fence clippers for a yard escape and pick axes or shovels to dig your way out. The idea is to find the weakness in security and exploit it in the dead of night.
However, if you are a badass sonbitch like me you can climb up into the vents, Die Hard style, and make your way out. Some items are considered Contraband and must be hidden in your cell toilet or on your person. Once again, badass sonbitch, Die Hard…hide them in the vents above your cell for maximum badass yields. Guards randomly check cells but with your contraband safely hidden away in the vents you are in the clear. This also helps in the later levels where metal detector doors are more prevalent.
The prisons feel much larger in scope when compared to the original game. There are multiple floors in the standard prisons now, far more areas to explore while looking for that elusive exploit.
Team 17 have also added in some novelty levels as standard. These types of prisons were reserved for DLC last time around. These focus on transportation with a train, a boat and a plane as the prison walls. These are far more goal orientated than the standard brick and mortar prisons. You essentially have one way to escape and there is a time limit. I prefer the approach of 2015’s title as the difficulty ramped up with every new prison you get thrown into. These levels were certainly fun but I found myself longing for the standard fare because I am a boring old man.
The combat system has received a welcome revamp. Last time around you could throw punches or use weapons but that was really it. The new system allows you to block but also the ability to move while attacking. It sounds small but it makes a huge difference tactically. Gone are the days where you had to stand there and threw down hoping for the best. It makes life much easier especially when you have the guards on your tail!
The Escapists 2 features multiplayer for the first time. I am yet to try it out but after watching some streams of folks playing it I am certainly planning to. It might make me hate humanity more than I already do but I guess it’s worth a shot.
There are vast customisation options available. In the original game it was pretty basic. The Escapists 2 allowed me to create a character that looks like Hulk Hogan, brother. You can also make characters that are NOT old wrestlers, if you’re into that sort of thing. The possibilities are endless. The light RPG elements return also. You must work out in the gym to build up your characters strength and read in the library to improve crafting skills. This basically becomes part of your daily routine so is not too intrusive.
The 16-bit style graphics have also received a fresh coat of paint. Environments are more colourful and detailed. The addition of a proper map is a great touch. The speech bubbles are more prominent and fellow prisoners are far easier to differentiate. It helps build a strange sense of comradery after a few days.
Overall this is an excellent sequel. It is challenging, frustrating and rewarding at the same time. It is a game overflowing with charm, wit and intelligent design. The feeling of accomplishment after successfully escaping is a unique experience in gaming in my opinion. If guards catch you with contraband you are stripped of everything you have gathered. Games rarely are as cruel as this, literally sending you back to square one after potentially days of work but it all adds to the tension of the daring escape. I just wish there were more standard prisons but hey, DLC to come.
Its 4.5 Meltzers from me. Pick it up, you will not regret it. I love this game and you will too. Support interesting games!