The Escapists (PlayStation 4) Review

By Shane Jury 21.07.2015

Review for The Escapists on PlayStation 4

In recent years, the independent developer scene has seen a vast uptick in growth and popularity. With project costs skyrocketing from the bigger publishers on higher profile home console releases, it is of little surprise that aspiring games creators take to other options for their visions, such as Kickstarter and Steam Early Access. The latter is how one-man-studio Mouldy Toof refined The Escapists into the product it is today, now being released on PlayStation 4, following the developer's previous successful project Spud's Quest. Is The Escapists fit for parole or should it be confined to incarceration forever?

Enveloped in a charming 8-bit top-down visual style, The Escapists puts gamers in the tiny shoes of a customisable inmate, ready to break out of confinement over a range of prison levels that increase in complexity as progress is made. Breaking out requires lots of preparation, ranging from doing deals with other convicts to get items, merging said tools to create weapons and equipment, learning guard movement patterns, and even keeping up with a day-to-day job placement to avoid suspicion. Getting caught with suspicious items or simply being seen by the wrong eyes in a place the inmate shouldn't be results in solitary confinement, and a reset back to the first calendar day of the level. Escape is the sole priority (aside from getting a high score), leaving plot behind to instead focus on smaller individual features that help embody the aforementioned charm that The Escapists has in droves.

Along with this, each character can be named and edited for the respective level, leading to an interesting homage or two to famous prison breakout movies and TV shows being present. It is this feature, most of all, as well as the visual style and offbeat humour, that brings to mind a comparison to Worms, ironically a series that publisher Team17 is very much famous for.

Screenshot for The Escapists on PlayStation 4

A handy tutorial at the beginning relays the basics, including controls and things to look out for, but The Escapists actually rewards those who take the time to delve deeper and simply explore what there is on offer. Pay a fellow convict to distract a guard? Done. Hide goodies in another prisoner's room so they get punished with the daily search instead? Done. Say 'Screw it!' and just go around stabbing the guards to walk out the front door? That's possible, too. In fact, for something so simple-looking - albeit a title that packs in plenty of personality - The Escapists hides a surprising level of depth; debatably too much so, with trial and error being a key component of progression at times, but the offbeat humour embodied throughout mitigates this somewhat.

How long all of this will last purchasers depends entirely on their course of action to break out of each level, plus the patience needed to go through daily routines to build up those ideas. This isn't for the crowd that desires action and adventure, but people who thrive on careful planning and preparation instead, so it can be a tough sell. As far as unique experiences go on the PlayStation 4, though, The Escapists is certainly a highlight.

Screenshot for The Escapists on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Escapists fills a niche that few developers dare to tread: a strategy title that demands planning and focus, leaving no room for failure and very limited handholding. Such restrictions limit the overall appeal, but those brave enough to venture into Mouldy Toof Studios' and Team17's latest release on PlayStation 4 will find buckets of charm and invention to reward their patience, as well as plenty of value for money.

Developer

Mouldy Toof Studios

Publisher

Team17

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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