The Average Gamer

The Escapists Review (Xbox One)

The Escapists - Showers
Scary Spice kept watching me in the shower, Ross and Joey beat me up every time they saw me and Rachel had more nail files in her pockets than a branch of Superdrug. Pretty much a standard day in the life for an inmate with ‘The Escapists’.

You’re just an average Jo(e) and much like school, prison life in this game is split out in to various tasks and places to be, with all of them being governed by a ringing bell and strict guards. Role-calls, meals, work, and exercise sessions – these must all be attended or you’ll quickly start racking up the authorities’ displeasure and wind up in solitary confinement.

Balancing the things you have to do with the things you definitely shouldn’t be doing (preparing your escape plan) is the name of this game and you’ll need a lot of patience, some luck, and duct tape.

Having started by naming my prison population after 90’s icons, I set about trying to formulate an escape plan, fortunately the starter jail isn’t too complex and as far as I could tell it was just going to need a bit of Shawshank-esque tactical digging.

Which leads me to the crafting system, I’ll be honest with you here, just use a Wiki page for the recipes. I spent over an hour trying various combinations of jail based clutter and got nowhere fast. Once you know what bits and bobs you’re looking for it becomes a case of how to acquire them. There are several options here but my favourite was to lurk near an ongoing fight and then go through the unconscious loser’s pockets when no one was looking.

The Escapists - Lights OutYou can, of course, opt for the more violent route of just kicking seven shades of shit out of the convict you think has the bar of soap you need, but it will earn you an enemy and the offended inmate will frequently have his revenge. This will land you in the infirmary with all of your hard earned contraband removed should you lose.

It was my own (accidental) violence that caused me the most problems with this game. The clumsy controls on the Xbox One version coupled with my cack-handed playing meant that all too often I would thump someone unintentionally. Ross and Joey never forgave me for this and would jump me on sight, it made shower time particularly tense.

[Editor’s note: I do this all the freaking time on PC as well. The ability to hitting people is an on-off safety toggle that doesn’t reset when you get busted. As a result, I get busted, come out of solitary/infirmary, try to pick up a mission and punch someone in the showers instead.]

Once you’ve finally gathered, crafted and prepared you can make an attempt at escape, I say “attempt” because it took me several tries, mostly due to my digging being noticed by an over zealous guard. It’s enormously frustrating when you get nabbed as a lot of time and sneaking about with illicit goods is entirely undone.

The Escapists - Working OutThat said, the cost of getting something wrong just adds to the tension of an escape attempt and when you finally manage it you’ll be so bloody chuffed that all previous disgruntlement will be forgotten, probably.

All in all, ‘The Escapists’ is a well put together game, it’s cute and funny (albeit repetitive) and certainly offers something a bit different to mess around with. My issue with it was the sheer amount of time needed to progress, alongside the never-changing routine of daily life. Whilst this is obviously the point of prison it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a video game. Perhaps a little more variety would have kept me interested.

The Escapists is out now for Xbox One and Windows PC. Review code provided by Xbox.