by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
When The Escapists came out last year it was an instant success thanks to its blend of sandbox environments and clever prison break mechanics. The Walking Dead license might seem like an odd fit for such a game, however Team 17 is determined to make it work. Once you see it in action, it quickly becomes clear how it all comes together, and soon becomes obvious how these two franchises are perhaps a match made in heaven. The main challenge is getting The Walking Dead’s story driven experience into The Escapists, which was always about the gameplay rather than the narrative.
A NEW TAKE ON 'ESCAPE'
In this game, stand out events from the comics are shown off, including the initial escape of the main character Rick Grimes. The very first level is a linear tutorial set just after Grimes has woken up in the hospital following the Walker outbreak. However later levels will be much more familiar to fans of The Escapists. The open ended sandboxes return, and you will once again be crafting and discovering your way to victory, while balancing that with the essential menial tasks of day to day life.
Unlike the original game though, you won’t ever actually be escaping from anything. In The Escapists, you had to do the day to day tasks in order to keep the guards from growing suspicious of you. So you had to turn up on time to meals, make sure you attended roll call, do your prison jobs, and so on. Instead, there is now a threat level, which determines how many Walkers will enter your compound.
While you received a higher score based on how efficiently you escaped from the prison in the original game, in The Escapists: The Walking Dead your score is determined by how many survivors you take with you. The higher your threat level, the more likely it is that some of your survivors will be left behind. So, playing as Rick, you’ll have to talk to your comrades, eat your meals with them, and do everything else in your daily routine in order to keep the threat level down. On top of all this, you’ll have to be increasing your defenses and crafting new items to help you against the impending zombie attack.
Walkers can enter the compound throughout each level, and if they manage to attack your fellow survivors, you only have a small amount of time until they turn into the living dead themselves. If this happens, you get a picture-in-picture display showing you where on the map this is happening. If you can get there in time, you’ll probably be able to revive them and keep them as part of your crew.
LIGHT ON AMMO, LARGE ON ANTICIPATION
One major addition to The Escapists: The Walking Dead is firearms, because you can’t have a game about The Walking Dead without them. When wielding a gun, it becomes a sort of twin stick shooter. It’s an important part of the game, but not a major one, as any Walking Dead fan will know that ammo after the apocalypse is fairly scarce. As well as guns, you’ll be crafting dozens of other weapons and items items from materials you scavenge to help you survive.
The original idea for The Escapists: The Walking Dead came from the famous prison scene from the comic books. However once Team17 started looking at all the other possibilities, more and more ideas started floating around. Simply releasing a single level or expansion pack no longer made sense, so this fully fledged game is set to release later this year.