The Escapists 2 Review
So, you’ve found yourself in prison again. Maybe it wasn’t your fault or maybe it was. Maybe you’re a good person who did a bad thing or maybe you’re just an idiot. Either way, you’re in prison and you’ll be doing hard-time for many years to come. But what if there was a way to expedite your prison experience and get back to smelling the sweet aroma of freedom? What if there was a video game that taught you how to bust out of lock-up and get you back to enjoying the finer things in life? Welcome to The Escapists 2. The game that puts you in the role of a felon and tasks you with the ultimate goal in prison; getting out.
There isn’t much in the way of a story for The Escapists 2. For each level, you are brought into a prison, given a quick tour, and then must find a way out. Your escapes are bookended with cute little intro and outro cutscenes, assuming you actually can escape. Make no mistake about it, The Escapists 2 is brutally hard and you’ll need extreme patience and persistence to succeed. In prison, you’ll come across other inmates, guards, guard dogs and civilians (prison employees). Inmates will either offer money for completing favors or they’ll sell contraband to you. The favors could range from beating an inmate up to planting a dead mouse in an inmates desk. Contraband could include crowbars, duct tape, razor blades, and more. You’ll use contraband, along with prison-accepted items like combs and toothpaste, to create all manner of tools to aid in your escape. Grappling hooks, shovels, pick-axes – pretty much everything you’ll need to escape, and even some odd things that’ll make you cock your head to the side and ask “why would I need that?”.
The Escapists 2 is a vast improvement over The Escapists in a bunch of different ways. The crafting system has been redesigned to make it easier to know what items you’ll need to make different tools. Prisons are no longer one story structures. In The Escapists 2, you’ll have larger, multi-level prisons that provide more opportunities, but can also be very daunting. Often when I replayed maps, I’d find new areas that I didn’t notice before – which usually sparked new ideas for escape. Another improvement worth mentioning is the overall look of the game. It still retains that nostalgic pixelated look, and yet looks substantially better. The best way to describe it would be comparing an NES game to a SNES game – it really is a nice jump forward in visuals. It actually felt odd going back to The Escapists and seeing how dated it looked in comparison. Another notable advancement was the variety in maps available; which ranged from standard prisons to my personal favorite, a prison on board a big plane (a clear homage to the movie Con Air).
“The best way to describe The Escapists 2 from its predecessor would be comparing an NES game to a SNES game”
The Escapists 2’s biggest addition is the multiplayer component. There are two multiplayer modes, both of which are playable online or locally with up to four players. The co-op mode encourages players to work together and escape the prison. Communication is vital, and even though the game offers basic “emotes” to communicate, they aren’t enough to plan a complicated escape – so have your headset ready. The second multiplayer mode is Versus. In this mode, the rules have been completely changed. It’s a race against the clock and your competitors to escape the prison first. In this mode, purchased items are now free, there are no more snipers hindering your escape, and you can hit (and be hit by) your competitors. The ability to hit competitors was a point of great frustration for me, as often there would be some jerk that just runs around smacking people down – without any regard for escaping. To make things worse, whenever you’re knocked out, you lose all of your contraband items (this applies to every mode), so having people running around beating you up would get pretty annoying. Fortunately, another improvement in The Escapists 2 is the fighting system. No longer is it a battle of attrition, now there is some actual skill to fighting. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s substantially better than the first game.
The Escapists 2 takes everything you loved about The Escapists and makes it better – in pretty much every damn way. If all sequels were treated with the kind of love and care Mouldy Toof Studios provided The Escapists 2… well, we’d stop having crappy sequels. With that said, The Escapists 2 isn’t perfect – it can be incredibly difficult and I noticed some glitches that hindered my ability to play. But the overall experience was still great. With updated visuals, refined crafting, bigger and more diverse prisons, and multiplayer modes – fans of the original will be in heaven. If you never played the original, fear not – you can jump into The Escapists 2 without missing much, you’ll just have a steeper learning curve. The Escapists 2 is a fun and cheeky way to experience prison life without any worries about dropping the soap. Just make sure you’re prepared to have your escape attempts thwarted over and over again!
*** PS4 key provided by the publisher ***
- Big visual upgrade from The Escapists
- Better crafting system
- Online and local multiplayer modes
- Diverse set of prisons
- Extremely difficult
- Versus mode can be frustrating
- Some annoying, yet temporary, glitches