The Escapists (Android) Review

By Andrew 01.04.2017

Review for The Escapists on Android

The premise of The Escapists is rather simple: to escape from jail. Ironically, the game feels extremely open and free, and there are a multitude of ways that can be attempted. Almost all will end in failure. This makes for a game that will frustrate some, especially as there is little guidance on where to go or what to do. For others, it will simply make the reward of progress all the greater.

Upon starting a new game, a brief tutorial is given on how different items may be used. The tutorial is undoubtedly helpful, but it quickly becomes apparent that it is wholly insufficient. With every video game there is a balance between telling the player exactly what to do, and leaving them stranded. The Escapists definitely leans towards the latter category. Bizarrely, the tutorial is the most fun part of the first couple of hours, as it is the only time that it is explained what to do. This is a great shame, because there are all sorts of intriguing mechanisms to be explored.

One of the most important aspects of The Escapists is how to use the time available. There are several things that must be done in a given day to keep the guards happy. Examples include attending roll call, as well as being in the cell before lights out. However, it is convenient to sneak off during these times when other people aren't around to attempt to dig an escape tunnel, for instance. This creates a fascinating balance, but one that must be learnt through trial and error.

Screenshot for The Escapists on Android

Other aspects involve talking to other inmates and doing jobs around the prison. Often these end up as grinding activities, as jobs are rewarded with coins that can then be spent or traded for a range of items. The game is open about which items can be bought in which order, and it is unknown if an individual item is actually useful in the grand scheme of things. It's quite possible (or even likely) that using a new item will backfire spectacularly as the carefully planned escape goes awry. Does that mean the item is useless, or that a new approach is required? In theory, this is The Escapists' greatest strength, as it adds a layer of realism and requires players to constantly adapt their way of thinking.

It will undoubtedly be too much for some players, though. After all, constant failure is not always a good motivator. The long term thinking also feels slightly ill-suited to an Android title, where pick-up-and-play titles typically rule. This is further emphasised by the loading times, which are noticeable (but by no means ridiculous). When put together, it makes it hard to justify a gaming session whilst waiting a few minutes for the bus.

Another frustrating aspect is the control system. The game was not originally intended for mobile phones, and it shows. Players have the option of a virtual joystick or more standard approach of pointing to the desired location, but both have issues. The former is a bit fiddly, whilst the latter has the frustration of trying to press a button in the corner, only to have the character go running off to the corner of the map instead. It is a regular occurrence, and one that should have been avoided. There are also many times when the direction the main character is facing is important. Whilst changing direction is not especially difficult, it can on occasions be awkward. Still, these issues can be overcome, and the retro graphics and sound have a pleasant feel to them.

Screenshot for The Escapists on Android

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The Escapists has a cool premise and many things to try. Unfortunately, it feels unfocused, particularly at first, and it asks a lot of the player to figure out through trial and error what does and doesn't work. The controls also feel awkward at times on the touch screen, and the style of game is unusual for a mobile title. Despite this, there is a rich and relatively open puzzle game to be explored for those that are able and willing to put the effort in.

Developer

Team17

Publisher

Team17

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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