My heart’s pounding, I’m tired and covered in brick dust. There’s a spotlight and a guard is patrolling, but neither has spotted me yet, and my empty cell hasn’t been passed since I left it. The hedge clippers I made from two files and a spool of duct tape are being worn down by the fence I’m cutting - it will be close. The fence finally gives away and I leg it for freedom! I escaped Centre Perks 2.0 in a grueling 10 days, 20 hours and 43 minutes.
The Escapists 2 is the sequel to Mouldy Toof Studios’ The Escapists, the prison escape simulator from 2015. It’s due out 22nd August, so of course this was an early build I played, but certainly good enough to get a feel for it. It’s bigger, looks better and has a ton more crafting options then the original - and a load of changes to stop you using the same tricks you had.
It should have taken me eight days to escape, or less, but I kept screwing myself over by mistake. For instance, on day eight my energy ran out, and my shovel was almost done for. So, I headed back to the cell to get more digging implements and maybe to rest for a couple of hours. As I got back inside, I spotted a guard heading for the door nearby, which would pass my hole. I figured I would put the brick back to hide it - which unfortunately resealed the hole completely.
Of course, the next day the hole I dug was found and filled in, and the security level went up. Yes, rather than coming straight to you and shoving you in solitary, there are five levels of security which bring in more guards and dogs. At level five, it’s a lockdown which lasts until they decide to lift it.
You can still be sent to solitary, though. On day three, I unscrewed the grate in someone’s cell and wandered around the ventilation system. I didn’t realise that I had kept the grate cover, so when it hit lockdown, they came right to me and beat me up before shoving me in solitary. You can pass the time quicker by peeling potatoes in a minigame.
In a change from the first game, you have to complete mini-games to raise your stats, as well as complete some jobs. Usually it’s pressing a couple of buttons at the right time, while your stamina goes down. Luckily, you can usually work out times where you can fit in a quick shower to restore it.
The build I played had three prisons, including the tutorial one. Each have their own schedules and layouts, so you can’t go straight from one into the next with a plan. Oh, after breakfast you wanted to fit in a bit of chiselling? Too bad, this prison has you working right after breakfast instead of free time. Also, it has steel reinforced concrete walls, so you’d better have a shovel not a chisel…
The graphics are a big improvement over the original. There was a charm to The Escapists, but the new engine does look really nice in comparison. You can even customise your felon -- the prisons are mixed population, so you can be male or female, as well as wear a variety of hats and sunglasses.
I mentioned the crafting system earlier, and I think it deserves a special mention. You could spend a lot of time in The Escapists just trying to find or buy crafting recepies. The Escapists 2 does away with that, and has you knowing the recipes from the start - however, you need to build up your intelligence to use most of them.
One aspect of the game I couldn’t test was online multiplayer. It hadn’t been implemented in my build, and I really wanted to try it out… Breaking out with a friend (heck, I’d have taken a stranger) would have been fantastic. [EDIT] I have since played the multiplayer, and when paired alongside voice chat on Discord, it was very fun. You can find the video of it here.
The tutorial didn’t really mention multiplayer, and in fact left out some important information. Such as that placing a brick back in a wall will seal it back up, or that you will keep said brick in the first place. There were also some bugs, such as items disappearing from where I put them, but still being able to pick them back up.
The Escapists 2 continues the tradition of “learn everything you can”. A big part of it is adhering to routine, or suffering the punishment. Miss too many scheduled activities and they will bring in the big dogs. Sometimes it’s not even your fault - you just so happened to get into a fight to do someone a favour, and the medics took you to the opposite end of the prison to heal up. But it’s usually your fault for trying to flood that guy’s cell, or you were desperately trying to cover the hole in your cell wall with a poster…
There are going to be 10 prisons in the finished game, and if the original is any indication there will be more released as DLC. If planning and preparation are something you enjoy, you’ll want to keep an eye on this. I’m looking forward to the full release, and seeing how many escapes I can carry out from the roof of a three story prison.