(this preview contains possible spoilers)
The Escapists 2 is the sequel to 2015’s The Escapists, a top-down prison simulation developed by games label Team17 and developer Mouldy Toof Studios. Team17 is an independent British developer organization that has stood the test of time in a grueling, competitive, and ever-changing industry, being established in 1990. Team17’s most popular games are from the Worms series, which has lasted over 20 years. The Escapists 2 is set to release on August 22nd, 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and a Nintendo Switch release at a later date.
As an inmate, you live the prison experience with authoritative guards, bad cafeteria food, exercise, and social hierarchy. Using your fellow inmates and items in your environment, you must escape from the prison. This is the third game in the series following The Escapists: The Walking Dead spinoff.
Starting you off at a tutorial called Precinct 17, the game begins with a cutscene and introduces you as an escapee, relaxing at the beach recalling your escape. Using the flashback, you learn the events prior to escaping. You learn the areas of the prison that you will visit during the day, like the cafeteria, weight room, attend roll call, and elaborate a plan to escape
The tutorial does run short, taking around 10 minutes at the most, which may make newcomers to the game wanting more information. After the tutorial, two maps are available in the preview, Center Perks 2.0 and Rattlesnake Springs, with the former being map remake from the original game and the latter being new. The maps may be overwhelming for new players and the lack of labels on the HUD can only add to the confusion (trying to the find the library took a few minutes).
After taking a job from one of my fellow inmates, I had to beat up an inmate. First, I had to build a set of brass knuckles, which was an adventure within itself. I had to gather materials that you can either buy from inmates or steal from their cells. Now, with my materials, I went to the crafting menu only to find that my character’s intelligence level was too low. You can raise your character’s intelligence by heading to the library and studying by filling a bar by pressing a button, which is a very rudimentary process.
With no recollection of where the weight room is, or no indicator of where it is within the prison, I had to find my target. The game allows you to look at the map of the whole prison, floor by floor, with indicators for inmates, officers, maintenance, etc. The mechanics for combat seemed basic with punch and block buttons. However, fighting was very difficult, I did way less damage then I was taking and got knocked out multiple times in a row, each time ending with a nurse escorting me to the health clinic.
Overall: The Escapists 2 is certainly a graphical upgrade from its predecessor, however, some of the new features in the game could have been DLC in the original, like more crafting items and character customization. However, from what I played, the game has conceptual promise but just needs some minor tweaks to the gameplay, like a better HUD and a more expansive tutorial.
The Escapists 2 Launch Trailer:
The Escapists 2 will launch on August 22, 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC with a Nintendo Switch version to follow. Players can pre-order the game now via Steam and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One from select retailers.