The very first level of The Escapist 2 begins with a character named Robinson bragging about his ingenious, and daring prison escape. And the second he finishes his speech to another character, a swarm of police officers, and SWAT arrives on scene and imprisons him yet again. And at that point, any sane title would follow with what happened next. However, The Escapist 2 is not a title of coherent sanity, and unfortunately the story of Robinson ends right there. However, the title, despite of a lack of a singular coherent story, features a plethora of content related to the life-in-prison.
The Escapist 2, unlike other titles, is a disjointed experience – meaning that each and every level featured within it, is its own singular entity. And while certain individuals will dislike such approach to game design, others will surely cherish it, as the lack of a pre-determined story allowed the developer to include a wide array of unique levels. And throughout the main campaign, which can be played both off and on line, players will have a chance to experience the rather spectacular variety of themes first hand.
Early levels of The Escapist revolve around the contemporary prison system, but the second one completes the ‘Robinson’ tutorial and the very first factual level, he/she is instantly served with a heavy dose of madness. As each and every level which follows Centre Parks 2.0, is simply ridiculous, but in a good way.
Gulags, Mid-Western penitentiary colonies, prison trains, and in-space holding cells, are just a handful of levels, and a taste of what The Escapist 2 has to offer. As each and every level, besides a different layout and a visual theme, also features a number of new objects, and possible escape routes. And throughout players will have a chance to cut through chain-link fences, glide away on makeshift planes, and gallop to freedom on wild mustangs. And all within a day’s work.
The sheer variety of content which can be found within The Escapist 2 is simply astounding, as it does not only prevent one from getting increasingly bored with each and every level – as the core formula remains the same throughout – but also allows one to replay every single stage multiple times, as every chapter has a number of unique escape routes. But if one wants to experience all that The Escapist 2 has to offer, he/she will have to enlist a help from a friend or a stranger, as not all in-game content can be experienced in single-player.
Most will be happy to hear that The Escapist 2 is a self-aware title, which disregards the contemporary norms of game-design. However, others will surely dislike it for the very same reason which others adore it, and it is namely the lack of a singular coherent story. Yes – story is not everything, and titles such as Rocket League, or Nidhogg proved that time and time again. However, a coherent plot is the best possible incentive for majority of modern gamers, as it allows one to concentrate on more than just the end-game of escaping the prison.
The lack of a static plot is surely problematic, but the second one gets stuck in the RNG hell, and spends days waiting for the right items to spawn, only then does he/she truly experience The Escapist 2 issues first hand. As with every single passing day, the monotony of the prison routine really gets to one’s mind, and he/she begins to slowly drift away from the main objective. And when the player loses the connection with the title, he/she ultimately loses the will to play it, as the engagement is ultimately gone, and so is the want to continue.
All the aforementioned issues are incredibly problematic in the long run, as at one point or another, each and every player will come to a stage where he or she will just get stuck in an infinite-loop of waiting for particular items. And this could have been avoided if only the developer committed to a stable and persistent level design, instead of random item generation.
Some objective relevant items, can be found in the very same location on each and every playthrough. But once one is done with it, he/she will most likely come back to unlock numerous cosmetics, and other levels, through completion of additional escape routes. But whenever one returns to a previous level, in order to complete a different mission relevant objective, he/she will realise how truly limited he/she is by the rather villainous RNG. Even the first level, which is rather simple in its structure, feel like an impenetrable fortress, on the third playthrough, as due to RNG limitations, a vast majority of the facility simply becomes non-existent, as due to the RNG, it is borderline impossible to access some parts of the facility, on each and every attempt.
The Escapist 2 feels like a title destined to be one of the all-time greats, as the core level design, in conjunction with the technical prowess of the developer, result in an experience which is not only fun, but also memorable. But unfortunately, the memories which come with this particular title, are not always pleasant. And this is because The Escapist 2, despite of its robust levels, takes way too many self-damaging shortcuts – of which the over-reliance on the random number generator, is its Achilles’ heel. As a single roll can turn a level into a work of art, the same way that it can also turn it into a monstrous chore, which feels like a waste of time.
Ultimately, The Escapist 2 is not for everybody, as the compilation of it features requires one to have a very particular taste in games. And if one is a fan of games which require plans and strategy, he/she may find The Escapist 2 to be overly chaotic, and too unpredictable. Whereas those who enjoy dueling with the RNG Gods, will find The Escapist 2 to be too slow, and overly limiting as despite of the use of the infamous RNG, it doesn’t offer one enough freedom, as its core structure disallows free exploration. But in the end, there will be some who dabble in both above mentioned types of games, and they will absolutely adore it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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