This prison is a bust…
I’m not sure going to prison is on my bucket list. I’ve seen enough scared straight videos, talked to my fair share of prison wardens, and seen some inside conditions to know better. So when a game comes along that forces you to escape prison, my interest is piqued. It’s a unique idea, but can it actually make escaping prison interesting and fun?
The first thing players will notice about the game is the visual style, as it’s completely retro from the soundtrack to the pixels. Playing as a lone prisoner who is doing his everyday tasks, there is a set criteria per day to follow. As a prisoner, players have to attend wake up calls, room inspections, chow time, workouts and more. When first thrown into the game a very basic tutorial is given, and then the game takes the training wheels off with very little direction to follow. It would be in player’s best interest to stick to the schedule for the first few days, just to get a grasp of what the prison actually wants from players on a daily basis.
Time to complete: 5 hours +
Price I would pay $4.00
The interesting part of the game comes down to finding out how to escape. Knock a guard out, hide the body, steal the outfit and keys, create a duplicate key from the real key, then get caught, only to now have access to a part of the prison that was previously locked. The idea of messing around with other prisoners and guards, finding items and creating new weapons does add to the game, and it’s at these times and when trying to finally get my escape plan in motion when the Escapist is at its most exciting.
Aside from these moments, the game really boils down to a lot of repetition, and with little story or progression sense, it can feel extremely slow and boring at times. While the visuals and idea of the game are unique from most other games, the gameplay simply isn’t as interesting as the premise. It can remind players of almost a “Harvest moon” of prison games, but lacking the character and interesting things in between all the monotony, it sadly just gets dull.
The Escapist is a game that I really wanted to love coming into it. I like the style, I like the idea and in the videogame world that is always refreshing to see. Sadly, it didn’t have the gameplay or hook to keep me interested for long at all. The most exciting part of the game is what you do the least of, escaping the prison. I think the idea is solid enough, and I’d love to see some more refinements added to the game.
Perhaps a bigger emphasis on characters or story could even go a long way to give players the incentive to continue or get more involved. It’s very possible the game simply isn’t for me, and this will become a niche title. But in my eyes, this is one prison I will simply not be returning to.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.