The best part of the gaming industry, in my opinion, is the community much like it is for other areas of media (television, books, films, etc.). Talking to friends, chatting about upcoming titles, titles maybe you’ve never heard of because even if you’re plugged into the industry, you’re still going to miss out. This is where The Escapists 2 comes in. I was sitting down chatting with friends, and the beloved Team17’s latest video game was brought up. I was told about several key aspects that interested me.
There was the gameplay, you the player are a prisoner locked away for whatever nefarious reasons you come up with in your imagination. Once you enter one of the ten maps available in the game you have to escape the prison by any means necessary. You have as much time as you need but it will impact your overall grade if it takes you 17 days to escape (which was how long it took my friends and me to flee from the first prison). This brings me to what brought me into The Escapists 2 the fact that is not just an online multiplayer co-op game, it is also a local co-op and versus video game for four players. It is simply brilliant because it’s a style of gameplay that has been lost with the advent of online multiplayer. The idea that you are in these imaginative sandbox style environments with up to three other unpredictable players is fascinating. Add to the mix an unapologetically harsh AI, a crafting system reminiscent of Minecraft, and multiple ways to escape from every map in the game, and you’ve got gold.
If the name Team17 sounds familiar it should, this is the team behind The Worms franchise and many more video over the course of the 27 years they’ve been around. They have always injected a great sense of personality and charm into their games, and The Escapists 2 is no different. The graphics are a part of that, the stylistic and sleek design of the maps and the character models are so lovable. One of the best elements of this section is the character customisation which is fairly deep; you can customise the hair, skin tone, and most enjoyable of all the various accessories of your particular inmate. As you delve deeper into The Escapists 2, you will unlock more customisable elements for you inmate which include multiple callbacks to iconic characters from other areas of media. My inmate currently has styled himself after Jason Voorhees from the Halloween franchise.
What adds another level of enjoyment to The Escapists 2 are the level designs. It can range from your usual affair, a brick and mortar prison, nothing too fancy, to a wild west prison onboard a locomotive. Each prison is unique, and even if there are similar elements, they are shifted around enough that they aren’t the exact same as previous endeavours. So far the most fun one has been onboard a locomotive that is travelling across the desert to its destination. This was novel because in this particular prison there is a time limit and depending on how smart you are can be finished in minutes, not only that unlike many of the other prisons it is a linear design. You can only go backwards and forwards, and there are limited areas to hide. It’s fun, it’s filled with more tension than other prisons and is more difficult with multiple players because the more of you there are the more chances there are to be caught. There are many side quests to keep you engaged while you’re trying to escape. There are jobs for the prisoners which can curry favour with them; you can do jobs for the prison itself to gain money and learn possible other avenues to escape because you’ll gain access to areas that only your job would allow. There’s also the chaos of the prison itself: there are riots, the NPC’s also try to escape, so it makes the world feel lived in.
The Escapists 2 is not without its faults. However, the UI (User Interface) gets progressively worse as the screen splits for the rest of the players. The text in the crafting boxes shrinks with each new player, and it’s already too small, to begin with, and it makes it quite difficult to read when you’re trying to craft the various tools to plan your great escape. It’s an issue that can bring down the mightiest of crews, and it’s easily fixed with a patch, that will hopefully come soon.
There is also the fact there is no story whatsoever which is something I always look forward to in video games. There is an opportunity to tell a story with The Escapists 2 that is a parody of all the great prison stories in film and television. These are personal quibbles, however, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Escapists 2.
With a competitive price, excellent replay value and wonderfully charming design The Escapists 2 is an enjoyable gaming experience especially with friends, just don’t drop the soap.