The Switch is steadily becoming a console that perfectly complements another console of this generation and is almost at the point that it could be a standalone gaming machine. The sheer amount of variety is steadily increasing with AAA fps games hitting the console, Nintendo finally regaining their stride, a ton of classics ported over, and the endless wonders of indie games. This is where Escapists 2 fits in, a puzzle sort of game that tasks players with the difficult task of breaking out of prison.
Escapists 2 may look cute with its pixel art and top-down perspective, but it actually hides a game of surprising depth and tons of challenge. Each round consists of being put into a particular prison, each with their own layout and challenges. The layout kind of reminds me of Payday and playing with friends will definitely makes things easier. Being able to distract security, while another is cutting the fences is much more achievable than going alone. Each map has special ways to escape, which also rewards the player with special customization options, which are steadily unlocked through playing.
The gameplay loop follows doing favors for other prisoners, finding and buying items, crafting them together, to steadily build enough tools to escape. However, inventory is extremely limited, so planning ahead is not only encouraged, but essential and congruent with the game’s design. This calls for careful decision making and in more complicated prisons it can certainly be hard to keep track of everything. Surveying the area and reading the map carefully are also important for planning, as there are usually multiple levels in each prison with vents and underground areas.
During this time, players have to behave according to the prison’s schedule. Attending roll call, having meals, exercising, showering, it’s all part of keeping low. Once free time hits, players are able to move around without immediately raising the heat. Following the schedule though is a good way to steadily increase stats, which leads to higher attack power or the ability to craft more useful tools. This does give players an increased chance of success over time, but making a mistake can lose all of the items stashed away.
As far as playing on the Switch goes, Escapists 2 is a fun game to keep on the library for down time. However, the menu interface can be a bit clunky, only because the item description always hides part of the menu. This makes trying to grasp the entire item array more difficult than it would be on say the PC version. That said, the portability of this title is fairly high.
Difficulty of Escapists 2 is one of those things that just takes a lot of time to learn, but finally making the escape feels awesome. Each item has a varieties of effects depending on what it’s being used on. Starting out, the game can be a bit overwhelming. It took a lot of fumbling around to get a grasp of how to even find an option to escape. It seems impossible, which fits the feeling (at least thematically) of being in a prison.
Not going to lie, I struggled to make progress for the longest time. I eventually had to rely on videos others playing to even stand a chance. The tutorial level was a bit too short in my opinion. Granted, it was framed well as the reminiscing of a man that had escaped, retelling how he did it while relaxing on a beach. I actually ended up playing it twice, due to forgetting how to open a vent.
With the Switch though, the ability to play with others in the same room is pretty awesome. For those unable to play with local players, there’s always the online option. Fire up some Discord, cause let’s face it Nintendo’s voice system is not the best option, and Escapists 2 can make for a hilarious night with friends.
The game’s customization options can also add some laughs as one can individualize each inmate or security officer. Name them after family, name them after enemies, it all makes for a unique game. Apparently there are a few unique characters that may spawn. For example, I found myself sharing a cell with Jacksepticeye.
Overall, Escapists 2 is a challenging game that may frustrate some players, but it does simulate trying to get out of a prison rather well. The nature of the game’s A.I. makes each round a little different, which increases the replayability by quite a bit. Those looking for a unique challenge and that have a group of friends willing to pick it up as well could find themselves with hours upon hours of laughs.
For more information on Escapists 2, check out the full website. A digital copy was provided.