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Game Review

Being incarcerated is never easy or entertaining. Unless, that is, you're in a video game version of the big house. But even when things are designed to be all digital fun and games, prison life can still have its challenges. The Escapists 2 is a great case in point.

This popular sequel hit store shelves for the PC and several consoles in the last half of 2017 and has just now been released on the Nintendo Switch. It's a cartoony, bird's eye view strategy RPG that challenges you to get all Escape From Alcatraz-minded. And its action fits well on the Switch's go-anywhere hand-held system.

Life Behind 2-D Bars

The gist of things here is that your guy or gal inmate has done something dastardly enough to earn a trip to one of 10 different prison settings. And now you have to figure out how to break him or her back out. If you've ever watched a jailbreak pic you know that's gonna take some planning, some creative flair and maybe just a dash of luck.

Each prison layout is its own open sandbox—populated with cells, activity rooms, showers, scores of fellow prisoners, and enough beefy guards to keep it all locked down. To make the game even more challenging, prisoners must follow a rigid ticking-clock inmate schedule every day while you're trying to implement your sneaky jailbreak plans. You've got a morning role call to attend, breakfast to eat, an exercise period to go to. You'll need to shower, hit the library, perform a prison-maintenance job, etc. Each period is announced by a passing bell of sorts, and you must check in for each activity, or the heat will be on and the guards will hunt you down.

Fly the Coop, Bird Man

But once you check in, you just might be able to sneak away and perform various off-book duties. It's during these moments, and a short stretch of free time, where all the real action of this game takes place. You can do favors and small quests for other prisoners—such as planting evidence in another con's cell or delivering a bit of contraband or plugging up and overflowing some mug's toilet. These missions can earn you some cash and help you obtain the raw materials you'll need for your escape.

Of course, there's also the opportunity to just flat-out steal the things you need, too. While the guards are looking elsewhere, you can always slip into an unlocked office or cell and quickly rifle through any drawer or desk left unattended. A spare sock here and a bar of soap there can make a nice little cudgel to keep some mouthy thug in line.

Soon it becomes clear that, as multilayered as Escapist prison life initially feels, your real job is three-fold: observe your surroundings and plan the when-where-and-how of your escape; search out or steal the raw materials you need; and then work your way up to being able to craft the pickaxes, shovels, etc. that can make it all happen.

Jailhouse Junk?

This is a T-rated game so all the real hardcore stuff of life behind prison walls is never on display. But there's still some cellblock content that young gamers will have to live with while doing their stretch in the slammer.

For instance, in the course of their crafting, players may choose to piece together various weapons—from clubs to whips to crowbars to knife-like shivs—that can be used to attack inmates or guards. And if your avatar finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, he can even be shot from a nearby guard tower. There's no blood or goop on display with these 16-bit like characters, but any vanquished convict falls in a heap and is then picked up by prison attendees and carted off to the infirmary.

There really aren't any heroes or good guys in the mix here, either. Players are convicted felons who lie, steal and cheat to regain their freedom. And that also means that some slightly suggestive inmate patter can float around when the cons hit the showers. The cartoony character bods are always covered up, but those scrubbing jailbirds sometimes toss out word-bubble comments such as: "Caught you looking!"; "That guard is perving on you!" and "Not now, I've got a headache."

Sure, that may not be quite the level of virtual contraband to give The Escapists 2 a full conviction. But it could be enough for some moms to lock this game out of the family room.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Publisher

Team 17

Released

January 11, 2018

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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