The Escapists is an action Adventure game with a hint of simulation to it and is developed by Mouldy Toof Studios and published by Team 17 Digital Ltd, the makers of the Worms series. You are a prisoner in an institution of your choosing and the prisons each have varying difficulties and a different layout. Your only objective is to escape, the only thing holding you back is your imagination.
The game doesn’t have a set story, no character progression or back story to speak of which is actually quite a positive thing because you feel like you’re playing “your” story not a pre-determined story you have no control over. There are characters around you but as of writing this, you cant converse with them or find out what their story is however there is still a lot you can do to interact with them. They each have their own separate names and skills, they sometimes have things you can buy and one of the greatest things about the other characters is that they each have their own separate opinion of you. If they have a positive opinion towards you then anything they have to sell can be slightly reduced, if they really like you then you can recruit them to do things for you such as rough other inmates up and cause distractions. If however they are hostile towards you then you run the risk of them coming to get you, or selling you items at an increased rate. These characters will give you some different tasks which can range from beating someone up to stealing something from someone’s desk and you will get paid for each task.
The game plays really well and is easy to pick up. You move using WASD and the mouse, you have a hot-bar for certain items and you can enter hostile mode by pressing the space bar and anyone you click on will be punched or hit with all manner of weapons you can use. There are a couple of things for your to keep an eye on though; health, which is an obvious one, your heat bar, which shows you how much attention you are attracting from the guards and whether or not they will try and beat you down. The last thing for your to worry about is the fatigue bar which will drain with the more activities you do. However this will increase your skills and your fatigue bar can be replenished by eating or sleeping.
The game itself is actually quite amazing. The day is regimented and timetabled and when I played for the first time I simply just went with the schedule, ate when I was told to, worked when I was told to and slept when I was told to. You do get free time which you can use to increase some of your skills, replenish yourself or even perform some of the tasks which the other characters have asked you to do for some quick and easy cash. Your free time is also the perfect time to try and plan your escape! Here’s the plan I concocted whilst I was in the slammer.
I started by getting a screw driver and opening up the vent in my cell, I used the files and the plastic knives I had stolen to cut my way through the slats in the vent to progress further. After I came to a slat which I couldn’t quite get the angle on to cut, I thought about taking another route to access it. So I got a job in the kitchen and used the time I had when I finished my job to get up to the vent in the kitchen and find my way through. I have now mastered the vent system and have a multitude of useful items stored up there. This is just one way of escaping in the game, you can try to dig through the floor and flush the dirt down the toilet, wear a guards outfit and try to blend in and a whole host of other ways which you will need play around with and discover. You may have to craft different things in order to escape such as a fake vent cover which requires toilet paper and super glue or a shovel or pickaxe but be careful where you keep these as the guards search your cell and can find these things hidden around so try to find a good place to keep them….I keep mine in the vents!
The game has basic graphics which I personally really liked, they are quite blocky and 8-bit but it works and makes the game feel very classical. The sound only helps with this and is again fairly basic and 8-bit but with each change in the timetable the music will change which will give you a sense of urgency to get to that roll call before the guards notice you are gone and send in the re-enforcements. The sound combined with the classic looking graphics adds a great deal the game and is one of the many great positives to be found in the game.
The Escapists is a game that I feel brings a classic feel back into the modern gaming world. It has the expansive and detailed gameplay of a great in depth Action Adventure/Sim with the classic Pokémon camera angle and 8-bit graphics and sounds. You will lose countless hours to this game, I’ve currently logged just under 10 and I am still yet to escape. The detail which the developer has gone in to is astounding and really makes me look forward to seeing the game in all it glory when it comes off Early Access. Mouldy Toof are always updating the game with new prisons/maps items and things to craft and I’m glad you don’t have to pay £2-£3 for a new prison map like you would with some of the bigger games out there.
As I said before the game is currently in the Early Access phase so there are a few kinks to be worked out but on the whole the game is still incredible and at only £6.99 on Steam is an absolute steal! I would heavily advise you to go grab a copy and get stuck in.