The Escapists (PC) (2015)

Overview: Live in a prison and do what it takes to escape.

Today I played The Escapists which I acquired in the Humble Team17 Bundle.

Meet Rabbit.

Gameplay Log:
Played the tutorial.
Playing the first level.
Learning what the heck is going on. For example, how to complete favors.
At the end of this long exploration, I learned how to correctly use the screwdriver. Though I got caught with an open vent.
After this escape attempt, I looked at the leaderboards and saw many top places finishing on Day 1. As such, I started a new save where I tried to quickly get the screwdriver and escape. However, it was getting late and I had to stop playing before I could make the attempt.
Note: crafting recipes I found in my other save file carried over to this save file.

Things I learned as I played:
The first thing a player should do is pause and read all the topics in the help menu. I didn't realize so much information was tucked away here. It's not a comprehensive list of topics, but it's helpful.

Lunch Time (eat and reduce fatigue)

One of the top actions is searching desks for common favor items (e.g., DVD, magazine, floss, etc.)
If the favor is to retrieve an item from another character, that item may either be in the person's desk (in his cell) or on that person (requiring the player to loot that character, see next). The favor is complete when the item is clicked on.
Loot characters by either beating them up personally or wait until someone else beats them up.
If the favor is to create a distraction, then what worked for me is to attack a guard and run around hoping I don't get beaten. A safeguard is to not have any valuables (red items) on you, just in case you get taken out.
In general, the player can save money by finding weapons or looting weapons from other characters.
While possibly not necessary for the first level, a useful action is to build up strength (followed by recouping energy: shower, eat, sleep). Intelligence (see next) might be useful in later levels.
Intelligence seems to mainly come into play as a crafting requirement (for crafting, see next)
At first I didn't encounter any of the supposed "Crafting Notes" that were said to be found in the game. However, I eventually began encountering them; sometimes they showed up as a sale item or more rarely in a desk.
From what I could tell, the NPCs switch available favors and sell items approximately every schedule unit (e.g., free time, exercise time, lunch time).

Desk Full of Items

Steam Game Time: 3.3 hours

Today I returned to try and escape this first level, picking up from my first save. Unfortunately, after an hour of trying, I gave up. Note that for some reason, I had a strong desire to play this game organically. While at times this made the game fun, it also had a way of making the game too frustrating. This, however, made me wonder. The game does very little outside of the tutorial to provide the player with help on how to escape. Putting the pieces together, this is intentional. There are not many levels and the slow discovery of new crafting recipes is part of the fun. With that being said, I did not make any attempt to discover crafting recipes on my own. Perhaps that was where I went wrong.

If I should return to this game, then as a note to myself, I should try and discover how to make some of the crafting ingredients.

Gameplay Log:
Prior to playing today, I looked at a couple of articles from the Escapists Wiki: Razor Blade, Knuckle Duster, Comb Blade, Comb Shiv, Whip, Bed Dummy, Pillow
Played. Stop playing.
Watched two speedruns.

Noooo! Not solitary!

Steam Game Time: 4.3 hours (total game time) / 1.0 hours (session game time)

+ Play value - from what I've gathered, there are multiple ways to escape; aside from escaping, living the prison life is fun

~ Game takes a hands-off approach to how the game work; this would be characteristic of games with crafting and arguably extends the life of the game

Running from a guard (creating a distraction during Evening Rollcall)

- Despite the hands-off approach, some information is tucked away in the help section; developers should seek to balance frustration and discover
- Resolution of actions can be unclear; for example, during my play of the first level, and despite the fact that it was part of the tutorial, I used the screwdriver on the vent, but didn't realize I had to use it multiple times (i.e., the vent wasn't open and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't enter the vents); as another example, reasons for getting caught are not conveyed to the player

I attempted to play the game by cutting myself off from information not found in the game itself and that made even the easy level difficult. With that being said, I got caught up with the prison life. I found myself getting smarter (browsing the internet) and stronger (lifting weights), beating up the guards and inmates, and fulfilling favors. I built up income and lost sight of the ultimate goal: escaping. In part because escaping was made difficult. Just let me explore the vents without getting caught! This all reminded me of the movie The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

The Escapists (PC) (2015)

Crafting a weapon

Relevant Links:
The Escapists Website
The Escapists (
The Escapists (PC) (
The Escapists (Steam Store Page)
The Escapists Wiki (Gamepedia)
The Escapists Wiki (Fandom)

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