GAME NAME: The Escapists
DEVELOPER(S): Mouldy Toof Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Team 17
RELEASE DATE(S): February 13th, 2015
I have been anxious to play Mouldy Toof Studios and Team 17’s newest game The Escapists since I first saw a trailer for it. I have to give anyone who wants to play this title a warning though, the game requires pure patience and time to master. The whole point is to try to escape different prisons with escalating difficulties as you progress. There is no main story aside from being a prison escaping simulator, which is hilarious and makes you laugh. I will mention that there are a lot of references in this game from movies that are down right clever, such as taking a bar of soap from”Durden”. If I have to explain that reference then quite frankly you need to watch “Fight Club” NOW!
You start out by selecting a character and can choose a different name for them or keep the name they started with. The names of the guards and other inmates can all be changed to your liking if you desire as well. The first day of every prison you attend will be a learning day to figure out the routine and learn the layout of the place. Staying in routine will keep the guards from paying attention to you and will allow you for more freedom to get away with straying from your daily routine later on. The other inmates can also prove helpful and you can take on requests from them to earn more money for purchasing contraband from other inmates. Some of the requests will be distracting the guards at meal time so a fight can break out or by retrieving stolen items for others. The Escapists is very original with the concept of observing and using your imagination to create a solution. There is definitely no hand holding in this game and it will cause some frustration for many, but the challenge is welcome for all who dare to try and it will leave you feeling accomplished upon success.
Crafting is a big part in this game and requires you to create make-shift items like a sock mace or other contraband that can help in your escape. If you get caught with contraband or weapons then you will get sent to solitary, which hinders your escape for a day or two. You will also have a job assigned to you and have to meet quota during your work period, which will earn you money to spend. If you want a different job then you’ll have to make it available by any means necessary, for example making another inmate late for his job or by preventing them from meeting quota. Everything within Escapists is about exploration and trial and error. Once you have gathered a crafting log then the item making will become easier to remember for later use. If you fall out of line or get into a fight then you will most likely be sent to the infirmary if you get knocked out. This will remove all illegal items and take some of your money as well.
Characters with a gold bag above their head have items for sale and others with green exclamation points are inmates with requests. Be careful as to what you’re buying in case you have inspection coming up and all items outlined in red will be considered illegal. There is a small RPG element to this game and you can level up your strength, speed and intellect. Strength is good for holding your own in throw downs with other inmates and speed is for moving around quickly throughout the prison. Intellect is the most important attribute since you can’t craft certain items until you raise it higher. You can raise your intellect by reading books in the library and raise your speed/strength from working out in the gym.
The controls are a combination of mouse and keyboard with no option to use a controller. I do wish there was an update to incorporate using a controller since this game also released on Xbox One, but it is still manageable with using W,S,A,D to move and clicking the mouse for actions.
The Escapists has a very pixelated outlook on prison life and bodes well with my old school cravings. There isn’t too much to be amazed with visually, but I’ve never had many complaints with games using pixelized graphics. The music changes throughout each prison stay to create a sense of relaxation or stress depending on what is happening. One thing that got to me was the alarm sound when routine is changing and that sound gets annoying really quickly. However, the other sounds are a MIDI treat with nothing too extravagant and I like the simplicity at hand.
Escapists is a prison break masterpiece from what I’ve experienced. I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of creating my own escape with patience and style. This game will take you an hour or longer to figure out how to break out of your first prison, but is worth the sense of accomplishment as you make your way out! This is a very clever game and is perfect for anyone who wants a challenge or if you ever dreamed of escaping from prison.