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The Escapists (Video Game Review)

The Escapists is a new downloadable title from developer Mouldy Toof Studios and publisher Team17 that features addictive gameplay in a prison setting. The Escapists shares many similarities with a title such as Prison Architect or the opening levels of Monaco: What's Yours is Mine, but The Escapists keeps the jailbreak gameplay alive for its entire duration and introduces crafting and RPG elements to make the game even more interesting. The Escapists can be downright punishing at times, but thanks to a great aesthetic and a solid amount of original and enjoyable content, this is one prison gamers will be excited to visit.

The Escapists casts players as a prisoner that must find a way to escape his current prison confines. The game is full of different prisoners and guards all with their own unique personalities and tendencies, but the game never fully expands on any one character in the game, so players are left to make up their own storylines for themselves while playing the game.

The Escapists puts plenty of tools at the disposal of the player to use in order to escape prison. The game's tutorial sets players in the right direction with some very basic mechanics needed to escape the game's first prison, but the brief lesson doesn't do enough to prepare players for the brutal trial and error that follows. The Escapists is a difficult game that requires patience and knowledge of the game and all of its mechanics in order to succeed, and the game's steep learning curve won't appeal to every gamer interested in this type of game.

Though there are plenty of items available to players in The Escapists, the game does not give players the necessary information to easily craft these items from in-game menus. Players will need to rely on wikis and other online sources to learn which items can be combined to form shovels, shivs and other items necessary to succeed in the game. Things become even more complicated with the addition of statistical ratings that are required to craft certain items, so it's always a good idea to spend downtime in the game reading to increase intelligence, lifting weights to increase strength or performing other stat related tasks before the problem ever arises.

If items and resources are the most important pieces to a successful jailbreak, then knowledge is the second most important. The Escapists does a good job of forcing players to learn guard patterns and tendencies, memorize certain times that meals, night rounds and other important events will occur around the prison and what weaknesses any given prison has. It's also important to know your relationships with other prisoners, since they can be used as a diversion if you're on their good side, or they could stab you in the back, literally, if you haven't been doing any favors for them during your stay. There are eight unique prisons included in the game by default, and each offers a different challenge while adding good replay value to the title. In addition to the default prisons, The Escapists also offers a level editor where players can create and share their own creations. There are additional downloadable prisons available from the game's developers as well for those that just can't get enough of the new game.

The Escapists continues the trend of downloadable games with retro inspired graphics. The world and its characters look as though they were ripped straight from the 8-bit generation of gaming, and the game features a fun sound design to match this atmosphere. The game controls well across both PC and Xbox One, though crafting items is a bit simpler when using keyboard and mouse. One other neat feature included in The Escapists is the spoken dialogue between the different characters in the game. Taking part in some of these conversations full of pop culture references offers some of the most hilarious moments the game can offer.

The Escapists is a solid downloadable title that nails prison break styled gameplay with only a few minor issues. The game's difficulty can be a problem for gamers that don't enjoy losing a whole day's progress from one mistake several times during a single mission, and a vague crafting system can make things even more difficult when an online guide isn't close by. The gameplay in the title is fun though, and the game is never unfair even when things seem all but impossible to complete. The Escapists offers hours of content and includes a level editor to add tons of additional replay value. Go directly to jail in The Escapists on Steam and Xbox LIVE today!

The Escapists is now available for Xbox One and PC and can be purchased for $19.99. The Escapists is rated T by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence & Suggestive Themes. For more information on the game, check out the official The Escapists website.

Game Features:
  • Single Player
  • 8 Unique Prisons
  • Dozens of Craftable Items
  • DLC Support
  • Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer: Mouldy Toof Studios
Publisher: Team17
Platforms: Xbox One & PC (reviewed)
Release Date: February 13, 2015

Score: 7 out of 10
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