It’s kinda like that TV show Prison Break, mixed with Pokémon on the Gameboy. Yup, that’s it!
Hailing from (the fairly unheard of) Mouldy Toof Studios, comes a brand new take on breaking out of prison, The Escapists. The official description of the game reads; All that stands between you and your freedom is a perfectly executed escape plan. The Escapists provides players the opportunity of experiencing a light-hearted insight into everyday prison life with the main objective being that of breaking out. That’s it in a nutshell. You’ll live life day-by-day whilst finding the time between prison work shifts and daily routines to execute the perfect escape plan. Sometimes, the most simple of ideas turn out to be gems.
Upon starting the game, the graphics are quaint, simplistic and charming. The colourful 8-bit environment instantly reminded me of the portable Pokémon games, albeit the story a little different.
Alongside the minimalist yet talented artwork, the music and sounds go hand-in-hand again offering a simplistic yet well crafted experience.
At times, the puzzles can be a little tricky. There are more ways than one to complete each level, just as long as it ends in you leaving the prison, you’ve won and can continue. I found it hard at times to figure out exactly what was next and who to speak to. Tips or hints along the way would have been helpful as ultimately I ended up queering Google for assistance.
During the missions you’ll have to either plant, steal or craft items in a similar fashion as Minecraft. On occasion the item you need to get next will only be obtained by completing a mission, or what the prisoners call “favours” for a fellow inmate. However, in a past favour you’ve beaten up said inmate and he now hates you. You’ll have to win back his favour, otherwise every time you walk into a room and he’s there, he’s going to pounce on you, wailing his fists. There doesn’t appear to be a particular order to completing favours, just some of them might, in turn, hinder your progress, rather than aid it. Do be wary of who you help!
Overall, The Escapists is a pretty rad game. It’s charm and apparent “family-friendliness” can be deceiving as this is a game that really requires some grey matter. This quirky little title that’s currently being sold for under £20 will really give your brain a workout. Worth a try if Rubik’s Cubes are a dead technology to you and you’ve completed all of your Nan’s Sudoku puzzles.