[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Escapists by Mouldy Toof Studios is an intriguing little prison simulator which was fully funded in 2013 on Kickstarter. One year later, it took to Steam Early Access and slowly drew in more inmates. Now, in 2015, the game has just launched out of Early Access! Having played it near the start, I’ve seen the changes it underwent all this time. Did it make good on its Early Access promises? That’s what this article is here to discuss.
The Escapists has changed since my original review of it. Don’t freak out! The game hasn’t been modified in such a way that it’s completely different from before. Rather, it has seen upgrades, many of which work for the better. Perhaps the best addition is that of an optional tutorial. Prior to this it was basically up to you to discover how to do much of anything in the game (until the official wiki and Steam Community grew, at least). Simple stuff seemed a bit mysterious but now makes total sense thanks to the opening tutorial. It shows you just how easy it is to escape from prison! Of course, doing so in game is still pretty tough.
Another excellent addition is that of multiple difficulties and prisons. Because The Escapists can be tough to get a handle on, you don’t really want to have to deal with the game being super hard while being a newbie. Spend some time in Very Easy and hone your skills – then take a run through a more challenging prison. Those who purchased The Escapists during Early Access get an additional prison as well, which is a nice bonus. If you missed out and are only looking at the game today you can still get it as 99 cent DLC. More prisons isn’t inherently necessary to play, but the change of pace is enjoyable.
For players who aren’t completely comfortable playing games in English the game was also localized into a handful of other languages. Those include French, German, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. In regards to Steam-specific features achievements, cloud saves, leaderboards, and even those desirable trading cards were added. Of course, new items, crafting recipes, and activities also became available over time. With all that said, nothing changes the rote nature that kind of takes over when players are biding their time. As you work to gain a following, collect some necessary escape items, or level up your prisoner, there’s still a requirement to keep to a preset schedule. It would have been nice to see some sort of free play mode implemented.
Finally, not every feature is in the game yet! A prison editor is still in development, as well as other surprises. It’s a bit odd for a post-Early Access game to continue promising big features, but at least they didn’t just throw away the idea. The Escapists has done well for itself over time, receiving a good deal of updates which kept fans interested – and there’s still more to come. It was a playable game early on but these tweaks have definitely fleshed things out. The Escapists is available on PC for $17.99 and Xbox One for $19.99.