Over the last year we went through all of ‘Orange is the New Black’ the Netflix TV series set in a prison. While it did the job of making prison look unappealing in some respects (the mindless violence, isolation and destruction of relationships) it also managed to make all the prisoner’s little schemes and hobbies a lot of fun. While ‘The Escapists’ is set in a men’s prison the activities and intrigue contained within is surprisingly close to what we’ve seen on TV.
Playing as an inmate serving an indefinite sentence for an unknown crime your task in ‘The Escapists’ is unsurprisingly to escape. There are different prisons but each one isn’t going to be an easy task. Constantly throughout your day you have to keep to the prisoner’s routine which leaves you precious little free time and there are guards absolutely everywhere. To help you out though many of the other prisoners need favours and there is an ind-depth crafting system that allows you to create (illegal) tools. So for example you might find from a crafting note that you can make a guard’s uniform from ink and an inmate uniform. Getting an inmate uniform is easy, you take a job in the laundry and simply don’t put one of them back. The ink might be harder, but at lunch you speak to another inmate and find they have one for sale, but it’s $20 more than what you have. You hear James wants someone to beat up Ross and will pay them $25 for it. So next roll call you beat up Ross, get taken down by the guards and accept the bruises in exchange for the $25 from James. With that money you buy the ink and then in your cell at night you can craft a new guard uniform. Clearly it won’t get you past any real guards or locked doors, but it will fool the cameras enough to allow you to sneak around at night a little more easily. Unfortunately if your cell is searched you might end up losing everything so it’s worth finding a little hidey hole somewhere where you can stash your gear. Like another inmate’s desk for instance.
For what appears as a simple 16-bit style game there’s a surprising amount of depth. There’s no multiplayer and currently there’s just one prison and 100 craftable items, but that’s plenty enough to keep you going for now and as the early access edition is only £6.99 it’s well worth the money.
As the game progresses we’re hoping to see more meaningful interactions and relationships with other inmates and staff as well as more methods to escape. That being said we still haven’t managed to escape the first prison so back to creating candles from batteries and wires for some unknown purpose!