Team17 are probably best known for the Worms franchise. Before multiplayer combat went firmly online, then you had two ways of blowing up your mates: if you had more than one PC, you fragged each other to death in Doom in a LAN deathmatch; but if you only had one PC to play on, you gathered round for squad-based physics shooter Worms, and it was wonderful.
Over the years, Team17 have sequelled and ported and re-released and re-animated and… lets just say that Worms has been their most popular, best-known title. More recently, the developer/publisher have spread their wings into a number of new ventures, and the one that has really gained traction is The Escapists. Already available on PC and Xbox One, The Escapists tunnels its way onto PS4 today, and is available from the PlayStation Store right now.
With a visual style akin to 8-bit RPGs on the NES, The Escapists puts you in the uncomfortable boots of an incarcerated crim, trying to fashion an escape from an increasingly challenging series of prisons. It’s not all about the escape itself, though – much like Andy DuFresne in the Shawshank Redemption, you know that busting out isn’t going to happen immediately – you spend a large portion of your time in The Escapists taking part in regular prison activities, to avoid drawing suspicion while you plan your breakout. If you miss a roll-call you’ll cast unwanted attention onto your absence, but if you do well in your prison job, you’ll earn extra funds to help with your scheme. There’s crafting in play too, and if it all goes wrong you might need to fight your way out of a tight spot with a makeshift sock-mace.
Team17 describe it as balancing “mundane routine with careful planning to attain your ultimate goal” and that’s a great way to describe the fine line between entertainment and tedium of any simulation game. This trailer probably explains it better than I ever could:
So while it could easily be tedious, The Escapists is actually a lot of fun and has plenty of replay value, with numerous different escape methods from various different prisons, and new environments (like the formidable Alcatraz) being added via DLC. So it’s time to request that rock hammer, put up the poster of Rita Hayworth, and get crawling through that river of shit – you might just come up smelling clean on the other side. (Back tattoo of prison layout optional)