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The Escapists

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The Escapists

The Escapists

Developer(s) Mouldy Toof Studios
Publisher(s) Team17 Digital Ltd.
Designer(s) Chris Davis
Engine Multimedia Fusion (Windows)
Unity (XONE, PS4)
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Xbox One
PlayStation 4[1]
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
August 20, 2014 (Early Access)
February 13, 2015 (Full Release)
Xbox One
February 13, 2015
PlayStation 4
NA June 2, 2015[2]
EU May 29, 2015[2]
Linux & OS X
October 21, 2015

Genre(s) Puzzle, RPG
Mode(s) Single-player

The Escapists is a puzzle role-playing video game played from a top-down perspective. The game was developed by Mouldy Toof Studios and following a Steam Early Access release in 2014, was released in 2015 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Players assume the role of an inmate and must escape from prisons of increasing difficulty. Reviews were generally favourable, praising the freedom of approach the game offered players, yet some were frustrated by the trial-and-error approach required to learn its systems.


  • Gameplay 1
  • Development and release 2
    • Downloadable Content 2.1
  • Reception 3
  • Legacy 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Players assume the role of an inmate whose goal is to escape prison. Players may acquire various tools to aid in their escape, by crafting them, bartering for them from other inmates, or by stealing them. Players can complete tasks for fellow inmates to improve their standing among them.[3] Engaging in activities like exercise and study allows players to level up their characters, improving their abilities and their chance of escape. Players must avoid discovery by the prison guards, and so must follow the prison's daily routines, such eating prison meals. Players must be careful to hide their tools, as guards will periodically search the inmates' cells. If caught, the player is sent into solitary confinement, and their progress with the escape is reset.[4]

Development and release

The Escapists is the second game by Chris Davis' one man studio. Davis raised £7,131 for the game through Kickstarter in November 2013, this allowed him to commit full-time to game development for the first time in his career. Unlike his self-published first title, Spud's Quest, Davis signed a publishing deal with Team 17 to better market the game.[5][6] Team 17 also contributed the tutorial and ported the game from Multimedia Fusion to Unity for Xbox One support.[7]

The game was inspired by the 1984 video game Skool Daze, one of Davis's favourite titles. Davis limited the hint system and the tutorial to encourage experimentation by the players. He hoped that by allowing players to discover the solution themselves, they would feel a greater sense of achievement.[7] For inspiration, Davis watched prison films and researched prison escapes, PCGamesN spotted references to Escape from Alcatraz, The Shawshank Redemption and Prison Break in the game.[8]

The game was released for Steam Early Access in August 2014.[9] PCGamesN reviewed the early access version in November 2014, with Steve Hogarty writing that while the game still lacked meaningful violent options for escape and its crafting recipes still too obscure, there was already enough potential for the game to be worthwhile. Hogarty also described the ongoing development process, saying "updates are regular and problems are remedied almost as quickly as they're diagnosed."[4] Feedback from the early access release allowed Davis to improve the game, such as by adjusting the difficulty. It also allowed him to experiment with ideas and solicit suggestions from the player community. Davis stated that, "the community is what made the game into what it is", and that "Early Access has been a really good experience for the game." The full game was released in February 2015.[8][10]

Downloadable Content

On April 22, 2015 a new downloadable content called Alcatraz was released for both PC and Xbox One versions of the game.[11]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (PC) 73/100[12]
(XONE) 74/100[13]
(PS4) 70/100[14]
Review scores
Publication Score
Game Informer 6/10[15]
GameSpot 8/10[16]
IGN 7.6/10[17]
OXM 7/10[18]
X-One 7/10[19]

The Escapists received mixed and positive reviews, with Windows and Xbox versions holding scores of 72 and 75 respectively on reviews aggregation website Metacritic.[12][13] Reviews highlighted the freedom in approach that the game allowed, and reviewers told stories of their break outs. GameSpot writer Cameron Woolsey described tunnelling his way out, Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) writer Andy Kelly, described hiding his ventilation system escape by crafting a fake papier-mâché vent cover, while X-One‍‍ '​‍s Dom Peppiatt straightforwardly shivved a guard and stole his keys.[16][18][19]

Reviewers were mixed on the learning curve presented by the game, even positive reviews such as OXM‍ '​s acknowledged that the game "won't be for everyone", requiring "patience and a creative mind" in the player.[18] Without an in depth tutorial, X-One believed the game "perhaps relies a little too heavily on trial-and-error".[19] Kimberley Wallace, writing at Game Informer found this trial-and-error approach frustrating, finding herself "constantly punished for mistakes and losing progress" due to outcomes which were impossible to predict. On the other hand, she felt this level of challenge contributed to "a grand sense of accomplishment when you win".[15]

Game Informer criticized the interaction with other inmates as shallow and artificial, requiring the player to perform "boring favours" to "just [raise] a meter".[15] Richard Cobbett, writing for IGN, noted that how despite the "adorable 16-bit style graphics", he would quickly perceive fellow prison inmates without empathy as "pure puzzle game piece[s]" rather than characters.[17] OXM felt the game had character, citing the non-player characters' "amusing non sequiturs and pop culture references".[18] Dan Whitehead at Eurogamer agreed, praising the game's "thriving social element" which make it easy to get "sucked into the petty vendettas and mini dramas of day to day prison life."[20]

X-One described the game as "one of the most peculiarly satisfying games we’ve played on the Xbox One since launch".[19] Eurogamer recommended the game, concluding that while it had minor frustrations, "there's nothing here that really spoils what is an otherwise delightful and endlessly surprising game".[20] GameSpot finished by saying the game would provide hours of gratifying entertainment, and with the developer working on tools for user-generated content, it could provide even more in the future.[16]


The Escapists: The Walking Dead was announced on July 8, 2015 as a standalone spin-off being developed by Team17. It merges the core gameplay of The Escapists with the characters, locations and theme of The Walking Dead comic books.[21]


  1. ^ Aston, Bethany (April 15, 2015). "Acclaimed strategy game The Escapists is coming soon to PS4". PlayStation Blog. Team17. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Dunning, Jason (April 30, 2015). "The Escapists PS4 Release Dates in North America & Europe Confirmed, Alcatraz DLC Out Day one".  
  3. ^ Dan Crawley (2014-07-09). "The Escapists is bringing the prison break genre back to life — on a shoestring budget".  
  4. ^ a b Steve Hogarty (2014-11-11). "The Escapists Early Access review". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2015-02-23. 
  5. ^ ChrisD (2013-10-24). "The Escapists".  
  6. ^ Leon Hurley (2014-07-09). "From Roofer to Developer: How Anyone Can Make a Game".  
  7. ^ a b  
  8. ^ a b Julian Benson (2015-02-03). "The Escapists is Hitman crossed with Prison Break. And quite good". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2015-02-21. 
  9. ^ Jeffrey Matulef (2014-08-20). "Prison break game The Escapists arrives on Steam Early Access".  
  10. ^ Craig Chapple (2015-02-16). "'"The Escapists dev: 'I'm not afraid to ask the community for ideas.  
  11. ^ "Can you escape from Alcatraz? – New DLC for The Escapists". April 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "The Escapists PC".  
  13. ^ a b "The Escapists Xbox One".  
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c Kimberley Wallace (2015-02-13). "The Escapists".  
  16. ^ a b c Cameron Woolsey (2015-02-10). "The Escapists Review".  
  17. ^ a b Richard Cobbett (2015-02-13). "The Escapists Review".  
  18. ^ a b c d Andy Kelly (March 2015). "The Escapists".  
  19. ^ a b c d Dom Peppiatt (February 2015). "The Escapists".  
  20. ^ a b Dan Whitehead (2015-02-12). "The Escapists review".  
  21. ^ Kato, Matthew (July 8, 2015). "The Walking Dead Spreads To Two More Games".  

External links

  • Official website
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