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The Escapists

The Escapists

Written by Chapel Collins on 3/13/2015 for XBO  
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In The Escapists, your goal is really quite simple: escape. With that little goal in mind, you are turned loose, or as loose as you can be while in prison, to devise just how you're going to accomplish it. However, you have to be extremely careful about how you go about that accomplishment. While the end goal is to escape, you will spend most of your time preparing, building up materials and nerve to actually make your plan come to fruition.

Patience and the long-play are the name of the game here; it can often take a few game days just to get the materials required to build one item, let alone the several that you will need for your escape. You'll spend your day to day life in The Escapists following a strict schedule set in place by the prison, with roll calls, meal times, exercise periods, and the like. In between these hourly events, you'll be doing setting the stage for your escape and doing favors for the other inmates. The favors will net you some extra money and increase the other inmates' opinion of you. If an inmate likes you, you can use that extra money to buy items from him, or you can recruit him as a minion and get him to help you fight other inmates or guards. If an inmate doesn't like you, he will try to fight you at any opportunity he gets. Some of the favors will require you to beat up guards or other inmates, which obviously will lower their opinion of you, so managing respect becomes a major part of the game.

One of the most important parts of the game is the crafting. Most of the tools you will use in your escape will need to be crafted, like shovels and wire cutters. Building up the required materials for these tools is something that will demand a lot of your time and effort. The inmates only sell a few items per day, so if there's a specific component you need that they aren't selling, it means you'll be rifling through the desks in their cells or through their pockets when you or someone else knocks them out. If you still haven't found what you need, you'll be waiting until the next day to check your bases again and see if it's available to you now. 

Tools aren't the only things you'll be crafting. If you foresee yourself cutting your way through a fence, you better use some wires to build a fake fence with which to cover your progress from the guards. If you're tunneling through a wall, find some toilet paper and glue to make some paper mache that you can fashion into a fake wall block to cover the hole you've made. The crafting system is very robust and surprisingly deep, so it's important to plan your escape down to the finest detail, as these items can be hard to come by.

Making your escape is not as simple as just procuring these items, however. Guards are ever present and extremely perceptive. This makes the game surprisingly intense, as you have mere minutes, if even that, to go to work on your plan before the guards come by. Lots of things are against prison rules, too; almost all of the tools with which you can escape are contraband, and if the guards catch you doing anything you shouldn't be, you're put in solitary confinement for three days, and all of your contraband is taken from your person and from your cell. Guards also do regular cell searches every morning and every night on random inmates, and if they find anything illegal in your cell, say goodbye to your contraband. This contraband can take days to gather as well, so the threat of getting caught is ever present and ever threatening.

There are a couple of issues I had with the game. One of the most notable parts of the game is its presentation, with the charming graphics and music and silly sense of humor. The music gets repetitive quickly however, and the character models are hard to tell apart. Some of them will actually repeat. This wouldn't be much of a problem if there was a way to tell which character was which before you got close enough to talk to them. If there was an option to have a name above each character, some parts of the game would move much more smoothly. Overall though, I love the way the game looks. It's something that will keep people coming back.

The biggest problem I had with the game was something that would have been hard to avoid. By virtue of design, since you spend most of your time in prison, waiting, it just gets boring at times. Most of the game play is spent following this rigid prison routine, thinking about how you're going to escape. I realize that this is the whole point, but I can't help but feel the game gets a little monotonous. It is definitely best to play it in small bursts of a few hours at a time. There were several instances when I would spend several hours gathering equipment, and then have a random cell check and lose it all before I got a chance to use it. That's the name of the game in The Escapists, so if that's something that will turn you off of the game, it may not be for you.

The Escapists oozes charm, but due to the inherent nature of the game, it has a tendency to be boring. It takes a lot of patience to make your escape, and you'll spend a lot of your time waiting. This may be a turn off for some, but for others it may make that final escape all the more satisfying.

Rating: 7.4 Above Average

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About Author

One of my earliest memories is playing Duck Hunt on the NES with my older cousin. Pokemon Yellow and Ocarina of Time were the main time sinks of my childhood, and both series remain two of my favorites to this day. Xbox Live got me much more interested in FPS and other competitive and cooperative games, and nowadays I find myself enjoying cooperative games more than any others.

Aside from video games, I spend my free time writing, playing, and recording music and ritualistically binging on Netflix. View Profile