The Escapists 2 is a PrisonIndustrial Fun Fest

first_img If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you also have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new Zelda is a massive, phenomenal game that you can and should play for dozens of hours. But eventually, you’re going to want to play something new on your Nintendo console/handheld hybrid. Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda is a new column highlighting cool, smaller Switch games to check out once you’ve saved Hyrule.Given the human rights nightmare that is the modern prison-industrial complex, an accurate video game jail simulator sounds like the most torturous (literally) thing in the world. So how does The Escapists 2 keep itself enjoyable rather than interactive version of Oz? By ramping up the parts of itself that are a video game, with quirky systems and a pixelated art style including the most adorable shivs you ever saw. Still, even with these concessions, actually escaping these jails can be as soul-crushing as escaping real jail… I assume.The first Escapists came out in 2014 and this sequel launched last year. But we’re taking a look at it now because it’s just debuted on Nintendo Switch. In any case, the concept remains the same. Players are put in jail and have to escape by any means necessary. Again, the cute (if generic) River City Ransom retro art style and tongue-in-cheek dialogue do a lot to smooth things over, but you’re really being asked to be the most cunning incarcerated criminal you can be.AdChoices广告This is an awesome premise for a video game and fortunately The Escapists 2 has the depth and freedom to back it up in practice. There are no set ways to get out of jail. You just have to arrive at whatever solution you arrive at. But there are various systems to help you out. First off, to not draw unwanted attention to yourself, you must follow the routine of the prison. This means making appearances at each meal, exercise session, role call, and whatever else within the time limit. Beyond adding Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley-esque life sim repetition to each day, the routines help you instinctively learn the layout of each prison, crucial for fast getaways. They also help you level up stats like strength and intelligence.You can fight guards with your fists but all that will usually earn you is a trip to solitary confinement (or a bullet in your back). So you’ll also spend much of your time crafting useful equipment. It’s a deep, if grindy, system. Work jobs or take favors from fellow inmates to earn cash for scraps or steal stuff from other cells when nobody’s looking. Your inventory is limited though so you’ll need to hide contraband in hidden desk compartments or by blocking your cell walls with bed sheets to avoid losing everything during a random inspection.With the right pieces you can slowly but usually build tools like shovels for digging tunnels, wire cutters for hopping into vents, brass knuckles for beating up cops with high-level key cards, and more. These items break with repeated use though, and unlike in Breath of the Wild where you’re tripping over weapons, here you’ll have to spend a lot of time foraging and making deals if you want another reinforced grappling hook. No wonder there was a Walking Dead spin-off of this franchise instead of, say, The Shawshank Redemption.Therein lies my biggest problem with The Escapists 2. It gives you an impressive, almost Hitman-level of ways to approach an encounter in terms of sheer variety. But it’s so easy for so many plans to fail that I didn’t feel like my stealth and creativity were being rewarded. It also doesn’t help that a failed plan can waste a ton of time considering the resources it burns through, resetting you back to square one. It’s not so much a difficulty curve, more a difficulty plateau.At first the building tension that underlined all my preparation was absolutely thrilling. It really felt like a dramatic prison break movie as all the gears started turning and the pieces fell into place. Having a bunch of short-term tasks (work this job, build this tool, tail this guard) leading to one big goal (escape!) also makes this an engrossing portable game. However, after so many failures so fast the tension evaporated and I just wanted to beat this video game, not escape this prison. In the first minimum-security prison I eventually found a solution involving stolen clothes that was ultimately more of a specific crafted puzzle to solve and less a moment of guided yet emergent chaos like a Grand Theft Auto heist. I felt like I was promised the latter and was disappointed as a result.That’s a shame because The Escapists 2 really does have the content and overall design to back the strength of its ideas. There are multiple prisons to learn and break out of ranging from cowboy jails to hidden government black sites. You can also compete with friends online or with two Joy-Con to see who can break out of jail the fastest. It’s a super cool console local multiplayer game, even if the interface seems more rooted in PC sensibilities.I just wish the escaping itself wasn’t so tedious. Not everyone would be into easing back on the difficulty, but if it was easier to break free, even in cheesy ways, I would be more tempted to replay levels, if just to see what I could get away with. Despite how it looks, the biggest flaw with The Escapists 2 is that it is actually, ironically, too much like real jail.Buy it now!Super Mario OdysseyThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendo SwitchProtect Your Nintendo Switch With These Awesome CasesView as: One Page Slides1/51. The Escapists 2 is an adorable game about breaking free from hellish prisons.2. As you follow your daily routines you’ll learn the layout of each new jail.3. Try all sorts of plans like knocking out guards with high-level key cards to earning enough cash and scrap to build a shovel for digging a tunnel.4. Unfortunately, it’s discouraging how easy it is for a plan to fall apart, wasting lots of time and resources.5. Multiple jails and multiplayer modes gives you reasons to try for freedom again and again.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Controller Patent Teases SNES Games on SwitchPlay These Nintendo Switch Games Before ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield&… Stay on targetlast_img

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