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The Escapists 2 Review (XBOX ONE)

The Escapists 2 Review (XBOX ONE)
3.5
Game Name: The Escapists 2
Platforms: PC (Steam) OTHER PLATFORMS: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Team17 Digital Ltd
Developer(s): Team17 Digital Ltd/Mouldy Toof Studios
Genre(s): Strategy RPG
Release Date: 8/22/17
ESRB Rating: T

If you enjoy prison break films like The Great Escape and The Shawshank Redemption, you might feel right at home with The Escapists 2. This is the sequel to a surprise hit that was originally released back in 2014. The game was basically a prison escape simulator as you worked your way through an escape from the prison utilizing the tools that were available at your disposal. It allowed the user to escape the prison by plotting their own escape plan and as a result, it also carried plenty of replay value and was known for its charming retro art style.

While as fun as the original Escapists ended up being, it was also extremely difficult as the game required you to follow a tough time table and strict routine in order to plan your escape from the prison. There were limited choices available in order to escape from the prison and this is something that is greatly expanded upon in the sequel with the developers taking the original gameplay and then attempting to diversify it with new additions. Buildings are now expanded so you have multiple floors to explore. Your tools arsenal is bigger so you can now look for more ways to escape. The visuals are also improved and now look more refined which helps with the animated look for the game. Multiplayer is another new addition to the sequel although it is unfortunately plagued with bugs at launch.

Don’t think of The Escapists 2 as an easy game. The sequel might offer new options to escape but it also ends up being more difficult thanks to them. Guards are still able to foil your plans if you do a simple mistake which means you will lose your hours of progress rather easily even if you make just a slight mistake. The game still maintains its tough routine and time table which makes it harder for you to plan your escape, but this is also the main charm behind The Escapists 2, because if you successfully mange to hatch a plan and escape the prison on your own, it makes for one hell of a experience and a story to tell among friends.

The Escapists 2 is a bit of a combination of strategy, RPG, and simulation as you play the role of a prisoner who is currently looking for a way to escape the big house. Much like its predecessor, you’ll have to improve your character, take care of jobs and tasks, and steal a lot of items to make it happen. However, there is very little linear progression or storyline to follow—it is up to you to figure out the best way to escape and how soon you can do it. The game looks like a lot on the surface and can be intimidating to a newbie, which is why the tutorial is a haven for figuring out what you need to do early on.

The first step in The Escapists 2 is getting to learn your routine and the inner working of your prison. This means you will be required to perform a lot of monotonous everyday tasks and slowly build your skills and tools while you plan your escape. You will have to scout out locations, learn the shortcuts and the pattern of guards. It is basically a game that demands your patience but pays off hugely with a reward that is always going to be an exhilarating prison escape.

Even though the game features a tutorial that introduces you to some of the basics, there are a lot of mechanics that are still untold and you will have to figure these out on your own. The prison basically works with a daily schedule that requires you to present at a roll call in the morning followed by some routine activity like food, job and exercise and then you are finally given some free time. The free time is when you will have to figure out what to do. You can attempt to build your stats like intellect and stamina during this time, or gather items so you can craft your tools. You will be able to accept quests from other prisoners who in turn will help you with your escape plan by either giving you an item, or offering you some distraction. All of these are important factors when it comes to planning a prison escape and they are by no means easy to manage. It is easy to progress with a simple mistake in The Escapists 2 but this is also what makes the game fun. If I would have to compare it to a game, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the Dark Souls of Strategy games.

There are ten different prison scenarios for you to play through in single player, all with their own set of rules for escape and difficulty. When you start a round you’ll be given a tour of the prison, along with a schedule to follow and areas you can interact with. You’ll then start your first day in the facility and will need to work out how you can escape. Your character can take different paths in life to make your escape. You can go to the library and read to become smarter, you can go to the gym and get stronger, you can do jobs for other prisoners and get goods you may need or favors later on, or you can work with the prison to earn the guard’s trust. There’s no one clear path to victory, meaning you can’t just spend all your time in the gym and do a favor to get a spoon and dig your way out.

Everything you do in The Escapists 2 will be a combination of elements, which can be tricky as you keep up the schedule at the prison laid out in front of you. You can disguise yourself as a guard or a guest, or create a dummy version of yourself, or steal enough keys to make it to the front door with distractions for the snipers. The big hill you need to climb is figuring it out for yourself and then implementing the plan. The game will not hold your hand, but it will give you the information and tools you need if you look long enough. The skillset has improved greatly as you are now able to apply your intellect better and have a much higher chance of survival in a fight. There’s a lot of micromanagement you’ll need to deal with, but it isn’t anything unreasonable.

Two of the elements I highly enjoyed was the create-a-character mode and the new multiplayer mode. First, creating a character has a lot more options this time around and will give you the option to look like yourself or the craziest person doing time. Meanwhile, the multiplayer mode opens up a whole new set of options as you and three friends can work together in the same prison to find a way out, or you can be jerks and race each other while also sabotaging the other players. Luckily you can add friends you know who own the game or get randomly matched up with other players online.

The Escapists 2 is a much more refined version of the original that’s easier to get into and a lot more fun to experiment with. On the surface, it looks like a cartoonish drop-down RPG, but there’s so much more to this that it may stun some people. The game still has its quirks that could frustrate people who don’t know what to do or how to carry on, but those looking for a decent challenge with multiple elements and a bit of humor will probably welcome the time in the joint. I highly recommend the game to anyone looking for a strategy game, an RPG, or a simulator with a lot more freedom and challenge.

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