Released on Steam in 2015, The Escapists - the jailbreak simulator, surprised the world. The protagonist of an unusual project was supposed break free without the guards noticing or your inmates ratting you out. By any means - nothing limits the player. The Escapists is a sandbox game that needed to add value to the "freedom" aspect; to do so, the developer team Mouldy Toof Studios has chosen the perfect solution: prison.
The Escapists offers you to consistently escape from the most protected prisons in the world. The conditions of detention are gradually changing, the control and the level of protection of the correctional institution are increasing. Before the start of each episode, you choose the name and appearance of the 8-bit hero, after which the new character wakes up in the camera. Regardless of the level of prison, each institution has a routine. In the morning you will find a board with the count of all prisoners, and the schedule: breakfast, free time, work, lunch, sports, dinner and evening roll call, all with time stamps. Falling asleep, you save the current progress and in case of failure of the escape, you spawn at either the latest checkpoint or last night.
In addition to counting prisoners in the morning and in the evening, the guards conduct searches in the cells, so you need to hide the prohibited items from colleagues, throw them out into the corridors or drain them into the toilet. By doing job quotas, you earn the respect of guards and money for which you can buy important items from dealers, including weapons and uniforms. Running on a treadmill increases your speed, pushing up or lifting weights makes you stronger so you can do more damage, and watching TV, using the computers or reading literature increases your intelligence level, allowing you to craft more and more complex items and weapons necessary to finalize a tricky escape plan.
Working out in the gym
In addition to job quotas, you can do favors for other prisoners. These include beating up others, stealing, distracting guards or obtaining a certain item.
These increase your respect for the person, which results in him not ratting you out if he suspects your plans. If you have low respect, however, the person that dislikes you might just run up and start attacking you for no reason, or not sell you items.
If you get beat up, you go to solitary. The longer you're there, the more strength, speed and intelligence points are lost, which makes losing a fight or being knocked out an outcome that is not very desirable.
The graphics are, well, pixels, but the game looks fine. The gameplay is fun at first, but does get repetitive after a couple prisons, as it's not exactly the difficulty that increases, it's just to get certain items you need to spend more time grinding. The main problem, however, is the complexity of the crafting menus. There are many things you would never find out if it wasn't for the wiki, which contains all the recipes. The controls aren't great either, and some side quests or missions are a bit hard to understand sometimes.
The prison escaping aspect is good, but I found myself wishing there more ways to flee, because there are only a few main ones: making a key mold from molten forks, digging a tunnel underneath the wall or escaping by boat. Nothing really changes, except the layout and the schedule.
To add to the flaws, the routine feels like a waste of time, especially the working out and gaining intelligence points, as you have to rinse and repeat every time you select a new prison.
Taking everything into account, I still think it's a The Escapists is good. It has (quite a few) flaws, especially the monotony and movement portions of the prison simulator, but it still makes for a hell of a lot of fun. While it does get boring after a while, you can always try to escape via the most inconvenient way possible, making it more difficult for yourself.
The game is available on Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox 360/One. It currently costs 14.99€ on Steam.
Verdict: if you have some money to spend, especially on sales, I recommend it for sure. It's a great game with great replayability, especially since the workshop has tons of crazy maps. Not everybody will like it, but those who are willing to give it a try are certainly in for a treat.
The only game from the same genre better than Escapists ^^^ :)