On January 11th, The Escapists 2 was ported to the Nintendo Switch by Team 17. This title, developed by Mouldy Toof Studios is a sort of prison escape simulator. Your goal as a prisoner is simply to escape, but any number of obstacles from fences to guards to walls can stand in your way. In order to get around this, you need to collect and craft materials and tools to help you get past. Of course, it’s never THAT easy, but the premise does remain this simple throughout all ten missions on offer. (I suppose that’s eleven, if you count the tutorial.) So let’s get deep into our Escapists 2 Review.
Escapists 2 Game Play and Mechanics
Overall, this game is pretty fun. Its wacky sense of humor and surprisingly interesting core game play offer more than enough to keep us playing. The game offers multiplayer or single player–online or local. The missions range from easy to hard to locked up tighter than an actual prison. There are loads of items to craft, stats you can raise to help you escape, and shenanigans to be had no matter how you choose to play.
Most importantly, the game gives you creative freedom on how to make your escape. Are you a fan of the classic digging a tunnel? How about using wire clippers to get through the fence? Or perhaps you wanna do something wacky like escaping a prison camp on a motor cycle? The choices are yours, though unlike the first game, The Escapists 2 offers some objective-based escape options rather than just the sandbox that the first game had to offer. This may be one of the biggest points in the game’s favor, offering an option for people who like to make their own goals and people who prefer to follow some kind of checklist.
So while you’re playing, you are expected to follow a routine, as any prisoner might. For the most part, missing a routine will cause you to look suspicious, but the actual threat there is minimal. Your security rating will go up half a star, with each full star causing prison security to get a bit beefier. At worst, this will just make the game a little bit harder. However, if you miss roll call, the prison goes into lock down and the guards come looking for you. It’s in your best interest to keep to your routine. Just don’t be afraid to miss something if you’re working on something important.
The Trouble With Multiplayer
So in particular, multiplayer seemed more fun than single player, even online. There, you can’t talk to other players outside of the canned speech accessed via the directional buttons. It’s just more fun to interact with other players and their plans which may not line up with yours. In one instance, playing online, we were on a train mission where in multiplayer your only options are to break away the back car or take over the whole train. Well, after failing to take over the train, our teammate got discouraged and chose to just stay in bed and give up. We weren’t having that. So we collected the crowbars, knocked him out, and dragged him to the back of the train in order to break it off and complete the scenario on our own.
The best moments we’ve had happened to us in multiplayer. However, the multiplayer content is not without some issues. For one, it is possible to screw over your partners, opening the door to griefers and the like. That’s not always a bad thing. However, the biggest issue came when attempting local co-op. Local co-op in The Escapists 2 causes the screen to split vertically into two screens. This doesn’t sound too bad, except that the UI gets scaled down to match. What was once readable with a little difficulty became nearly impossible to make out. Occasionally, we’d get a weird bug where the text descriptions for stuff refused to even show up. It really made the game harder than it needed to be, forcing a lot of guess work on our part.
Still, despite flaws like graphics jumping around a little and some unusually long load times, nothing ultimately interfered with my play or enjoyment of the game more than this did. The core mechanics certainly get a passing grade.
Audio and Visuals
The Escapists 2 is a game that’s done entirely in basic pixel art graphics. As such, it’s already doing better than expected if you can tell everything apart. Mouldy Toof delivers on that front, providing something that doesn’t look out of place, but pops enough to give you an idea of where to look. It’s a massive upgrade from the predecessor, but ultimately, the visuals just do their job. Now, each location is distinct, and you’ll always know exactly where you are, which is a bit of good level design. Whether you’re at sea, in the desert, or the frozen tundra, each level has its own atmosphere, which is as good a reason as any to talk about the soundtrack.
So the music in this game can actually be pretty closely compared to the visuals. There are different tracks for each part of your routine in each level, but there aren’t any major standouts that’ll find their way into playlists. However, the amount of music made is pretty impressive. After all, what was stopping them from making one track per level and simply altering the tempo to suit the time of day? For everything “just doing its job,” it really comes together to make something truly solid.
Finally, that brings us to the meat and potatoes of the game. The Escapists 2 overall isn’t really brimming with content, but it does offer plenty of replay value. There are eleven compounds to escape, with the first being a tutorial and the rest unlocking in groups of three. The final one, of course, unlocks on its own. Each group has two regular compounds you can escape by simply finding a way out. Each group also has one timed mission that requires you to track down certain objectives. If you escape three times, either using different methods or in different compounds, you’ll unlock the next set.
As we mentioned before, the game offers the different objective-based escape missions. These include dressing up as a mike operator to escape with the crew that’s filming the prison, building an aircraft and busting through the wall to fly out of there, and even hijacking a helicopter in order to make your escape. Escapists 2 does this part really well, giving you many options to keep it interesting for another play through. On top of this, the game gives you a score and rank, based on how fast you made your escape and what way you chose to do it. So even score chasers will find something to love about this game.
There’s also some amount of customization to the player characters and even the other prisoners and security guards. This is great because the game already encourages some amount of individuality. You unlock more customization options as you play the game, but realistically, you can already make your character look unique without any of that.
Everything isn’t perfect, however. Again, going back to the UI, there’s a lot of items in the crafting menus that are there only for specific missions. As cool as that is, you can’t find the materials to craft a lot of these in other prisons. This means that leaving them in the crafting UI for other missions just makes them feel like an annoyance more than anything else. Still, this is a relatively minor gripe with everything else right with the game.
The Escapists 2 Review Conclusion
The Escapists 2 is a very fun game that offers players freedom, co-operation, and most likely a few funny stories to tell around the campfire. While it may be far from perfect, even the issues we did have with the game seemed to be just minor gripes. The biggest hindrances to enjoying this game are the UI in local co-op and single player feeling less interesting overall.
Players can freely take their time on a level, speed through it, or co-operate with friends for something crazy. There really is something for just about everyone here. However, the issues with the game do stop it from achieving the highest heights. On top of that, while the game is a lot of fun, there’s nothing here that’ll make players come back after they’ve had their fill. It’s not anything breath taking, but a solidly competent game that deserves a little of your time. So with all things said, we can honestly recommend this game to just about anyone. Just don’t punch your friend for trying to fight all the guards and making everything harder for you.
Big thanks to Team17 for providing the Nintendo Switch review copy of The Escapists 2.