The first game in the series The Escapist was released on Steam Early Access in 2014 and officially released on all consoles in 2015. The game was created by Chris Davis as the sole developer at Mouldy Toof Studios. Davis credits the inspiration behind The Escapist as one of his favorite games Skool Daze and prison films.
The story behind The Escapist 2 is very simple and follows the exact same story and plotline as the first game. You are a prisoner that must escape a prison. The method which you choose to escape is up to you.
The gameplay has an open-worldesque nature. Obviously, being in a prison there are limitations on what you can do, but the game allows you to plan your escape in a variety of different ways. You might choose to buff up and exercise and just muscle your way out of the penal system, or perhaps you will use your wits and create unique tools and key molds to get out. Perhaps you will build reputation with the inmates and guards to curry favors to get out of the facility by initiating a riot or will you stealthily plot your escape route by slowly digging your way out (a la Shawshank Redemption).
These gameplay mechanics and the opportunity to take whichever strategy fits your playstyle to escape from the prison make for a potentially great way to allow you to be as creative as possible, but in the end your escape route falls into very limited categories and any creative tools or weapons you create lead you to those specific ways of getting out.
The sequel adds a new dynamic with the multi-player feature. The Escapist 2 allows you to join random players or play with your friends to either work together to escape or even sabotage your friends plans to escape by stealing their tools and items or working against them. The great thing about multi-player is that it provides players with the opportunity to escape with ways that aren’t possible in single-player mode.
The graphics fall right into the retro pixel art style that is very prominent in the current rise of indie
games. The backgrounds and prisons are done well, but there are large parts of the prison that seem superfluous and unused. While these can be great to create places to scheme and plot and plan, it doesn’t necessarily flow with how prisons are typically seen in movies and documentaries. The sound is fun, and when you fight or are caught trying to do something improper does give a sense of tension that fits well with trying to escape a prison.
Thoughts and Review
The Escapist 2 has the potential to provide unique and endless possibilities and let you escape in your own way, but it still follows the same nature as the first game, where no matter how creative you are the way you escape can be lumped into a subset of categories and after you figure out the most efficient way to escape, you don’t need to come back to the same prison map again.
The graphics are well done, but the layouts just go against how a prison should be laid out. There is so much dead and empty space. At first I thought I could use this space for more strategic beatings to get keys or uniforms, but unfortunately you are at the mercy of RNG to get the right inmate or officer to go into those large unused rooms.
There were some enhancements that helped with the quality of life from the original game, but the challenge of still figuring out how to escape from the prison was left up to the player and is not designed for the faint of heart. The multiplayer adds a bit more to the game, but the challenge is that there isn’t much replayability in the game because once you figure out the most efficient way to escape, you don’t really care to play the slow game. The PC version of the game has a prison editor which can lead to endless game play options, but unfortunately the editor is not present on consoles.
The game has it’s moments and does deserve props but I feel it doesn’t add dramatically more to what was already found in the original game and because of that I have to give it a 6.5/10.