Lift. Shower. Eat. Sleep. So goes the life of prisoners in The Escapists 2, at least when the guards are around.
The Escapists 2
Developer: Team 17
Platform: PC, Xbox One,
MonsterVine was supplied with a PC code for preview.
The folks over at Team 17 have brought back The Escapists and have doubled down on just about everything. Twice the bit count, twice the ways to break out, and twice the crazy. There’s even cooperative play with up to four players this time around.
For those that don’t know, The Escapists is all about breaking out of prison. How you go about this is up to you. Are you aggressive and feel like beating your way out? Build a bladed whip. But however you decide to hatch your escape plan, one thing’s for sure, it won’t be easy.
At E3 I spoke with Vincent Gallopain, a Public Relations agent from Team 17, about The Escapists 2 and what the sequel has in store. Vincent gave me the basic pitch about the game, its improvements and its intended playtime. Each prison is supposedly escapable in around a half hour. Now I’m not entirely sure if he was referring to co-op or solo play, but boy do I hope he meant the former. Both of the first two prisons, presumably meant to be the easier prisons in the game took me well over two hours. To be fair, some of this time was spent experimenting and learning and some dealing with in-development bugs, but even without those issues it’s clear that I’d be a pretty lousy escape artist. Regardless, here lies the tale of my two technically successful breakout attempts.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Precinct 17, the first prison after the tutorial, was a rather simple prison. After being shown around the reading room, gym, job office, cafeteria, guard room and bunks I was escorted to roll call. From my first encounter things seemed pretty minimum security, with the guards seemingly concerned with the inmates. A camera crew had even been brought in to document the lives of the prisoners of Precinct 17.
Without an immediate idea for escape, I spent the first day learning the schedule of the prison, as the schedules differ slightly from prison to prison. My day usually started with roll call, then breakfast, followed by free time, job time, lunch, exercise, shower, dinner, free time, roll call and then lights out. For a while, I simply followed this pattern.
I eventually wanted an actual job as opposed to sitting in the job office during job hours. The only job available by default was Garbage Disposal, which required a bit more strength than I had at the moment, so during exercise time I pumped some reps and began getting stronger. Once I got the job I began to earn more money, and all I had to do was put on some gloves and a face mask and dump colored trash-bags into the corresponding colored incinerator. One of the first ideas that I’d had was to dispose of any contraband or evidence in these incinerators, but apparently that’s not a thing as of yet. Flushing items down the toilet, while potentially damaging to the facility and alarming to the guards, will have to do for now.
Shortly after getting into a routine I wanted to start stockpiling supplies. I began to do low-effort and non-violent favors for the other inmates, such as delivering birthday messages or planting evidence in others stuff. Morally grey? Yes. High risk? Definitely not. For most of these favors I was simply rewarded with a bit of cash, but occasionally I’d be gifted with a weapon or tool. After bartering with another inmate for a screwdriver, I began to hatch a plan.
I noticed there was an intricate vent system within the prison that was connected to a vent within my cell. I could climb up onto my desk, unscrew the vent cover, and crawl around the prison with relative freedom during the night. While roaming the prison I noticed an area that was infrequently patrolled that wasn’t far from the outermost fence. All that was between me and freedom at this point was a wall and a doubly-nested fence.
While looking through the tools available to me I noticed that I had a shovel and crude wire-cutters. My plan was beginning to form. I’d crawl into the vent system in the dead of night and drop down to this point where there was little between me and freedom. I’d then burrow a tunnel as quickly as I could beneath the wall and into the outside grounds and then cut the fences and make a run for it.
After going through the prison’s schedule for a day, the night had finally come. I got to my drop point without a snag and began to dig. I dropped into the underground and began to tunnel before realizing just how tiring it was for my character. I’d only made it a third of the way under the wall before I was completely stalled by exhaustion, and while it was the middle of the night I couldn’t exactly take a break in the rec room. So, I snuck my way into the cafeteria to take a seat and catch my breath before going back to it. This process repeated itself over the course of the night until I found myself directly underneath where I’d planned to pop up. I began to dig upwards as the wake-up call rang. I’d worked all night. I rushed back through my tunnel, closed off my entry hole with a rather rough patch of dirt and booked it to roll call. Suddenly, lockdown.
Apparently, a guard patrolling the outside of the prison discovered a partial sinkhole where I’d begun to burrow upwards and investigated, discovering my tunnel and destroying it. Busted. For this, and various other offenses I’d been caught with over my 9 day stay, I was thrown into solitary confinement a few times.
I then began to look for other options and found myself at the phone booths in the prison, where I noticed that you can pay a small price for a hint from your escape crew. My crew suggested that I simply try to blend in with the local camera crew and waltz out the front door. While ridiculous, I figured it was worth a shot. During free time I followed one of the cameramen to his office and stole a spare uniform after he walked out. I then crafted a fake boom mic from an old radio and a broom that was sure to be indistinguishable from the real thing and just…walked out. It worked. I was free. I’d wasted a lot of time bargaining and crafting shovels and wire cutters, but after only 9 days I was free.
As it turns out, 9 days is a long time in The Escapists 2, and I received an F rating for my troubles. Understandable, as my successful escape plan took less than 3 days to plan and execute. I figured I might do better with my second prison now that I was more knowledgeable on the game’s intricacies.
One and Done
My next prison, Rattlesnake Springs, was simultaneously more complex and straightforward. The prison itself seemed to have higher security with its various sniper towers, metal detectors and multiple roll call times. However, the optimal escape route seemed much clearer to me. As the warden introduced us to the prison he conveniently mentioned that the prison was built on top of an abandoned mine shaft.
My first, and apparently correct, instinct was to dig. Now that I knew how to play I immediately started on doing favors, upping my stats and getting a job painting over graffiti. While in the dining hall I gathered plastic spoons, which I’d later learn are the absolutely slowest way to dig a tunnel. During free moments I bartered for shovel materials with the goal of making at least two sturdy shovels to begin my escape.
After going through almost 10 plastic spoons and making it only 42% of the way through the floor underneath my desk I decided that these were best kept as a worst-case-scenario tool. I dug underneath the desk every night until I needed support beams for my tunnel. I then rinsed and repeated my daily pattern of favors, painting, bartering and stealing until I had acquired the three timber planks required to build support beams.
Once I’d actually broken into the mine it became apparent that some of it had collapsed in on itself. This ultimately required another shovel and a lot more digging, although I did manage to find two abandoned pickaxes down below that helped take the sting away from this. After another night of digging I managed to break my way through the underground landslides and out the abandoned mine entrance, easy as pie.
Even with a straightforward and relatively optimized escape plan, I was detained for 8 days and earned myself an E rating. It’s clear that you either have to be damn near perfect or play with friends to achieve high scores here.
Ultimately, escaping from prison is a thrilling prospect that takes a good bit of mental planning and patience. This cute and in-depth escape game can be demanding of both time and skill for single players, especially if you’re aiming for high scores, but is still a rewarding experience. While there are still some kinks lying around, The Escapists 2 is already a promising package.
The Escapists 2 releases on Steam and consoles August 22nd.