Review: The Escapists 2 (Switch)

Ironically, you probably aren’t going to want to escape this one.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/21/2018 12:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Wonderful aesthetics; a ton of different activities to engage in; myriad of different ways to approach breaking out of a given prison; learning the routines of fellow prisoners and guards is a rewarding experience
Poison Mushroom for...
Can be overwhelming at times; would have served the game well to cut down on some of the excess and streamline a bit

While most of us are likely never to know this in real life, if there’s anything Hollywood has taught us about a jailbreak, it’s that they take a lot of planning and patience. That’s also true in video game simulations, as well, if The Escapists 2 is anything to go off of. The game is all about planning, patience, and a good deal of humor as players attempt to make their great escape. While it has some rough edges, it’s not a game to be missed.

The Escapists 2 introduces its mechanics with a simple flight of freedom at the outset of the game. From a sunny beach, our convict narrator describes the steps by which he escaped his incarceration. This introductory level is perfectly paced and is also suitably pared down compared to the more complicated escapes that players will encounter further down the road. It’s here that the basics of sticking to routine and avoiding detection are conveyed, which act as the cornerstone of virtually every mission.

It’s these tenets of routine that really pulse through the veins of every prison that players are plopped into throughout the game. Each prison is a self-contained sandbox filled with AI-controlled inmates and guards. Everyone has a routine that they follow and the player is expected to keep track of all the ones that will impact their ability to get free. In the earlier stages, it’s a bit easier as there’s less going on, but as the game progresses it becomes very challenging to remember who will be where and doing what.

It’s in these small details that The Escapists 2 really shines. Players are expected to wake up, go get breakfast, shower, participate in jobs, and more, all while squeezing in the necessary steps to break free from prison. A huge part of the experience here is learning when to be late to appointments in order to sneak off and make preparations, like grabbing items from a neighboring cell, for instance. It’s truly thrilling learning the ins and outs of each prison and piecing together how to escape.

There’s a legitimately high level of player autonomy in The Escapists 2 that’s a joy to behold. There are multiple ways to approach breaking out of the various penitentiaries on offer. Do odd jobs to earn cash to buy items needed to craft gear for an escape. Workout to become faster and stronger to make an escape easier. Steal items from your prison mates. Spot a wall to blow through and run for the gates. There’s a myriad of different things to see and do, so much so that it’s astonishing.

Still, The Escapists 2 isn’t perfect. One major flaw is the small text: I don’t have a postage stamp-sized TV, but even on my screen I had a hard time reading the tiny font. Hopefully that will be addressed in an update down the road. In terms of actual gameplay, a lot of what happens in The Escapists 2 boils down to experimentation. While that is always fun to an extent, when there’s too little direction things can become unnecessarily obtuse, something that can happen occasionally here. For example, I mentioned above that it’s key to know when to be late to a given activity in order to sneak in some subterfuge, but the game isn’t explicit about the fact that you don’t have to be perfectly on time and can get away with it.

This is an issue that creeps into many other facets of the game. The various activities I outlined above are only a handful of the different things a player will be doing, but with all that variety can come a sense of being overwhelmed when things become too harried. The Escapists 2 can sometimes feel overly much like a grind when it gluttonously relishes in its own complexities and minutiae. If Mouldy Toof Studios eased on the brakes just a bit and refined The Escapists 2 a tad, this would be an even better game than it already is.

As things stand, for all its excesses, The Escapists 2 is nonetheless a can’t-miss game on Switch. With a delightful pixel-style that fills the screen with details, it’ll be hard to take your eyes off the screen as you make your way through all the different prisons on offer. Most of us might never have the, uh… joy… of breaking out of prison, but The Escapists 2 does a swell job of showing us just how entertaining it can be!

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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