A few weeks ago, the kind people at Team 17 Digital provided us with a copy of their prison escape simulator, The Escapists. With a heavy focus on crafting and environments chock full of little tricks and secrets I found The Escapists a bit daunting at first. Having never played a game as intensive on crafting I found it’s early stages quite puzzling, yet fun and full of subtle humor and charm. Breaking out of prison was gratifying but still quite difficult for me in the easiest compound. The Escapists’ other five prisons and Alcatraz DLC are all a significant step above in terms of complexity. So, instead of rushing to review the game, ruining my own enjoyment by resorting to guides, and skewing my opinion in unfair ways, I’ve decided to recap my journey to freedom starting with the opening stage, Center Perks. All of these small journal entries are things I’ve done in the game, shortened for your amusement.
I created my prisoner in the likeness of Charles Manson, and customized the other prisoners into randomly named thugs and members of Game Awry. After all, what better way is there to experience prison other than with friends?
Day 1: Both Mazzbags and Mikey showed up to morning role call with contraband for sale. Farkas is distant, sits next to the old man Bentley at breakfast. I, Charlie, work the laundromat. I wash uniforms for both prisoners and guards. Once I've met my daily quota, I take an extra moment to secure a clean officer’s uniform before leaving. We eat lunch, workout, and shower. Mazzbags gets into a confrontation with a thug named Loc. Mazzbags gets knocked out. I check his pockets, and find nothing but two uncooked pieces of what appear to be chicken. I go up to Mike and he tells me he’s on the look out for a nail file. I go through the motions for the rest of the day and play it cool. Not sure of who to align with yet, but naturally gravitating towards the people I know from Game Awry. Or perhaps, thought I knew?
Day 2: I continue my work at the laundromat, earning a modest amount of currency. Farkas is stationed in the metal shop, Mikey works the mail room, and Mazzbags is the head cook in the kitchen. Farkas is uncharacteristically quiet, and won’t speak to me. I speak to a man named Jim-Dandy and discover he has a nail file but I cannot afford it. I spend a considerable amount of time in the gym. I go through another inmate named Slim’s desk in his cell and find a toothbrush, sharpen it into a shiv, and head off to bed.
Day 3: Farkas is finally speaking to me, but I’m taken aback by his request. He wants me to beat up Mazzbags. I want to be in his good graces but not if that is what it takes. I tell him maybe and go lol at cats on the internet.
Day 4: I purchase the file from Jim-Dandy and give it to Mike. He’s pleased and vows to fight anyone including guards that I choose. I’ve gotten into several spats with Loc, but managed to hold my own thus far. I continue to buff my stats through the gym and internet. I speak to other inmates for favors mostly during shower time. A man named Ted is angry at me and I don’t know why, but he has a proper weapon for sale and I intend on getting it from him.
Day 5: Farkas continues to leave frequently and remain out of the public eye. Often opting to sit with gangsters or by just himself. Mazzbags is now in my good graces after finding and gifting him a new watch. Mikey tells me he’s on the lookout for chocolate but I can’t seem to find any for him. I’m worried this might create a divide between us. I’ve constructed several weapons that are considered illegal contraband as well as a stash for them but have yet to find a place to hide them all.
Day 6-9: I accidentally punched a cop and was knocked out. All of my contraband is gone. I was placed into solitary for three days after guards discovered I had been digging into the wall with plastic spoons. I’ve lost strength and intelligence. Mikey never got his chocolate and is no longer a deployable sentry. I must recoup.
Day 7: Keeping Mazzbags on my side has paid off. I have finally purchased a baton from Ted. I now have several enemies. I betray Mikey and Farkas regularly by going through their belongings, but they never catch me in the act. Occasionally I see a visitor. Loc has asked me to take his spatula back from Farkas. I decide it's best not to interfere.
Day 8-10: Back into solitary again, haven’t found a way to cover my tracks. I accidentally punch people walking to get a lunch tray. Very few people are willing to speak to Charles Manson. I often eat alone. Talks around the showers have lead to several naked battles, so I’ve kept them to a minimum.
Days 11-18: My strength, speed, and intellect are at an all time high. I am armed with a sock filled with a bar of soap. Digging hasn’t worked thus far, so I’m going to attempt to fight my way out. I created a layer of padding beneath my jumpsuit and prepare for a big day.
Day 19: I slip into the guard uniform and pummel Officer Hannigan with the soap sock in the yard, only this time my strength perseveres and I loot him for his baton and key. I dash towards the next officer in the compound and repeat the process. At one point Mazzbags enters the fray and I send him to strike a guard. He’s a martyr, and is soon rendered unconscious. But my rampage continues in a relentless fashion. Scampering across the compound, looking for guards and bashing them with the stolen baton at every instance. Farkas fights an inmate in the distance, but it’s too late to start anew with him, so I continue onward for the next guard. There can’t be many left. But I’m fatigued, so I hop into the shower mid bloodbath to rejuvenate my strength. Now clean, Officer Norman is the only one left standing. He’s always been one of the better cops, so I do what I must with a hint of regret. Upon landing the final blow, I am alerted that the main gate is now unlocked and dash for it. There’s no way to tell if the others made it out. I’ll have to send them my regards. Freedom, albeit on the lamb, has been achieved. For now.
And so it was written, that Charles Manson and the Game Awry crew were sent to prison. Perhaps they saw Charlie make his exit and followed suit? Perhaps the guards recuperated and brought order to the compound before it was too late? Did Mikey ever find his chocolate? We may never know.
I may not have always understood what to do while playing The Escapists, but I had fun finding out. At times I was stumped and did look for assistance but tried to play it as much as possible without doing so. Overall, I was impressed with the possibilities and depth of my experience. I want to escape from the remaining prisons, particularly Alcatraz, but I’m not honestly sure I’m capable. Partially, because I sort of suck. But mostly, due to lack of time. Something actual prisoners have plenty of. I hope this entry gives you an idea of how fun The Escapists can be, and urge you to check it out if it sounds like it’s right for you.
Until the next time I escape from prison,