THE ESCAPISTS 2
Following a range of downloadable add-ons, and a successful spin-off themed around
TheWalkingDead, Mouldy Toof Studios’ top-down prison-escape strategy is getting the sequel treatment. The Escapists 2’ s biggest new feature is a drop-in, drop-out multiplayer mode, though the team has taken the time to address the most common complaints levelled at its predecessor. “One criticism of the original was that if your plans were scuppered, you were just told that you’d done something wrong and that was that,” says designer Grant Towell. “So it was quite punishing and brutal. This time there are no insta-busts. We’ve come up with new solutions to get around that.”
One of those solutions is a new star system for alerts, similar to GTA’s Wanted ratings. If a guard spots something amiss, they’ll head to the security room to report it and the number of stars will increase, with security tightening accordingly: more patrols will be posted, and later you’ll have guard dogs to worry about. Good behaviour will bring that down, but if you notice a guard about to report something, you can knock them out en route to the security room and they’ll forget what they were doing. It won’t be game over, even with a maximum star rating, though you’ll face a challenge escaping when there’s a full lockdown. “It allows you to regroup and fix the issues with your escape plans, rather than start again,” Towell explains. “So it’s more forgiving, but there’s still that buzz of, ‘I’m going to do it tonight.’”
Prisons will be bigger this time, spread across several floors. We’re given a guided tour of Rattlesnake Springs, a Wild West fort whose convicts all sport black-and-white hooped uniforms. Alongside the more generic escape methods – like digging holes or cutting through fences – each jail has a set of bespoke escapes, tailored towards the number of players. And the pixel resolution has been doubled: it retains the simple charm of the original designs, but it’s undoubtedly a better-looking game.
Combat, meanwhile, is less rudimentary than in the original, with blocks and rush attacks, while you’ll have a better idea of who and who not to pick a fight with, since the weapons of tooled-up cons are clearly displayed. And there are no cutaways: everything plays out in realtime, so you’ll see guards carrying you to the infirmary or solitary confinement. Spells in solitary can be accelerated by completing a simple potato-peeling minigame. There’s a wider range of QTE styles for your prison chores, too. And the new game will have a much broader customisation palette. “Last time I checked, we had 278 different [cosmetic] unlockables,” Towell says. “I think we’ve actually got more haircuts in this game than there exists in real life.”