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Video Game / The Escapists

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"Welcome, cons, to HMP Irongate."

All that stands between you and your freedom is a perfectly executed escape plan. Of course, to escape, you'll need tools, and the guards aren't going to give you much. Your fellow cons might be more helpful... if you can stay on their good side. Be careful, though: Between the guards, the cameras, and the walls, escape isn't going to be easy.

The Escapists is a prison break game developed by Mouldy Toof Studios and published by Team17 Digital on February 2015.

A sequel called The Escapists 2 was released in 2017.

A island survival game set in the same universe called The Survivalists was released in 2020.

Tropes featured include:

  • Acceptable Break from Reality: Trying to cut an electric fence with a plastic butter knife will still give you an electric shock.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Downplayed. They exist, but they're blocked all the way by slats that have to be cut through, and if a guard sees an open vent, kiss your escape goodbye.
  • The Alcatraz: HMP Irongate. Not only do you have to escape the usual means, you also need a raft to sail off. Also, the cells all have cameras, which you need to bypass every time you want to do something against the rules.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: One of the items possible to craft in the game is a ladder made of bed sheets. It's used to descend from rooftops.
  • Bilingual Bonus: One of the prisons is a POW camp called Stalag Flucht. "Flucht" can translate from German as "escape", which is what you'll be trying to do there.
  • Cardboard Prison: Even the easiest prisons avert this. You need to put some work into escaping.
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: Plastic knives, forks and spoons can be stolen from the cafeteria and all can be used to aid in escape: knives to cut through vents, slats and fences, forks to chip away at walls and rocks, and spoons to dig tunnels. Naturally, they're all very fragile, inefficient and exhausting to use, but they'll do until you can make proper tools or if you just need to finish an obstacle you've almost broken through.
  • Discount Card: The more a prisoner likes you, the less you get charged for the items they're selling.
  • Duct Tape for Everything:
    • Duct tape is a crafting ingredient in many, many useful items, like pickaxes, shears, contraband pouches, and armor. Expect to use a lot of it.
    • You also have the option of using duct tape to restrain an unconscious guard or prisoner. If you are tough enough at fighting and have enough tape, restraining a number of guards can be a potential avenue of escape.
  • Enemy Chatter: Guards and your fellow prisoners will always have something to say.
  • Epic Flail:
    • The sock mace, a sock with soap in the toe. The super sock mace uses a battery instead.
    • The whip weapon is actually a flail, with a razor blade on the end.
  • Everything Sensor: Contraband sensors are placed around the prisons that detect anything the warden doesn't want you to have. Although they look like metal detectors, they will detect putty, comb shivs, duct tape, and all contraband items in your inventory unless you have a contraband pouch. There are a few oddities: they won't detect anything you're wearing or wielding as a weapon, and they don't seem to care about other inmates you can buy contraband from.
  • Fade to Black: Getting knocked out will result in the screen fading to black before you wake up in the infirmary.
  • Fast Tunnelling: You can dig a tunnel extremely quickly, with the right tools.
  • Fly in the Soup: While eating, one of the prisoners will occasionally say, "There's a meal in my fly!".
  • Great Escape: The objective of the game is to escape prisons, each with a certain difficulty level and sometimes with added gimmicks.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: While they behave sensibly about short-term issues, like someone stealing their keys or leaving a vent open, the guards can be fairly incompetent at their jobs.
    • After you get a stay in solitary confinement when you're caught trying to escape, they will keep returning you to the cell that you've been escaping from if they catch you and treating you normally. They never decide to pay very close attention to the guy who keeps trying to escape.
    • They don't seem to notice random posters appearing on walls, even outside of prisoner's cells (such as on one of the hallways). It gets even more hilarious when you realize that a poster can only logically cover up one side, but if guards can walk around both sides of the wall they won't care.
    • Averted if you harass a single guard too much; even if he really likes you, if you beat him up too many times he will decide, out of the blue, to grass your ass. This is a problem for you since if it's during one of the non-free time periods, other guards will be present, and if you lift a finger, even in self defense, it will be considered assault... which results in every other guard in the room dogpiling on you.
    • If a Guard does decide to floor your ass in front of other guards, you can run around in a circle and as long as he doesn't connect a hit, none of the other Guards will jump in. They will instead watch one very angry guard chase you around tables for no discernible reason. But if he lands any hits, it's dogpile time.
  • Hellhole Prison:
    • The HMP Irongate is not a nice place to live, and good luck getting out. The cells have cameras, the guards wield stun rods, and the place is an island, so it's not like you can break out and walk free.
    • In-Universe, San Pancho. The hot desert sun turns inmates hateful and violent, so much so that guards stray from going inside the prison yard unless it's for rollcall. Any new inmate can expect to get beaten up swiftly once they start.
  • Improvised Armor: You can modify your prison jumpsuit with metal plates to make very effective armor. Lesser armour can be crafted with a book or pillow in place of the sheet metal.
  • Improvised Screwdriver: A plastic knife can be used as a makeshift screwdriver.
  • Improvised Weapon: Almost everything you can use as a weapon was cobbled together from other things. One of the few exceptions are the batons you can buy off your fellow prisoners.
  • Irony: The guard at the crossbar will say "See you tomorrow!" if he lets you pass after you give him the ID Papers. Since he just let you escape, he likely won't see you tomorrow.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Center Perks is this, with cable TV and friendly prison guards. They even fluff your pillows. The guard dialogue even lampshades why people would even want to get out of it.
  • Locking Macgyver In The Store Cupboard: Plenty of useful materials (toothpaste, toilet paper, dental floss) are left lying around the prison for you to repurpose. Some of the jobs you can take give you access to contraband, but they put contraband sensors at the exit to deter you from stealing anything, so you have to be cr.
  • MacGyvering: A major mechanic. You can buy (or steal) tools, weapons, and gear from your fellow prisoners, and you will need to buy crafting components from them, but the best equipment is often only obtainable through crafting. Pickaxes and shovels, for example, can be made and heavily reinforced with timber, duct tape, and sheet metal.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Guard heat goes to its maximum if you go through a scanner with contraband in your inventory. You can sometimes see contraband in the inventories of knocked-out inmates, yet they are never seen triggering the scanners.
  • New Game Plus: Starting a new game does not reset your list of crafting recipes, speeding up the early game considerably.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: How combat works. You can use shivs, glass shards, spiked bats, and razor-blade whips but enemies will still stand up, dust themselves off, and go about their day without so much as a trip to the infirmary.
  • The Old Convict: You can play as one, if you like, greyed hair and everything.
  • One-Hit KO: Molten Chocolate functions as these, along with the Stun Rods wielded by the prison guards at HMP Irongate.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Pick up a crafting note and you will master the recipe forever. Make yourself some nunchucks and you'll be able to wield them effectively immediately.
  • Poster Patchup: If you chip off a wall block or fence, you can make a poster and replace the block with it. The guards will never notice and you can pick it up and set it back down at will.
  • POW Camp: There are three: Stalag Flucht is the classic "The Great Escape"-style prison camp set in a snowy tundra, while the Jungle Compound is based off of prisons in Laos. San Pancho is set somewhere in the deserts of Mexico.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: They've got exercise equipment that you ought to make use of: when you enter, your speed and strength are at 30, out of a cap of 100. There's even a dedicated exercise period in the day, usually one hour.
  • Prison Riot: An impractical means of escaping: making that many people like you enough to attack the guards on your say-so is hard, and the prison will go into lockdown if the situation gets too bad.
  • Resting Recovery: Sleeping in your bed causes you to regain energy at a faster rate until you get up.
  • Russian Reversal: The variation of the Fly in the Soup is a reversal of the standard joke: "There's a meal in my fly!"
  • Santa's Sweatshop: Included as a DLC, the level literally named "Santa's Sweatshop" has you play an elf trying to escape Santa's factory complex.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sinister Shiv: Combs and toothbrushes can be sharpened into weak shivs, and pieces of glass can be combined with duct tape to make the more formidable glass shank. You can trade them to people for cash, or keep them as weapons.
  • Tempting Fate: Almost every beginning note, the one written by the warden when you first arrive on Day 1, says something about escaping.
    Center Perks: Dear (Name). Welcome to Center Perks - the most comfortable low-security prison in the county. On behalf of the staff here we wish you a happy and relaxing visit! Should you get bored of the complimentary cable TV, we pride ourselves in many other engaging activities around the grounds.
    Stalag Flucht: Sent me another one have they... Listen kid, I don't have to remind you that Stalag Flucht is famous for housing inmates with a record of escapism, so if you're planning on getting out of this one, think again! Now get yourself settled in, it's gonna be cold, long winter.
    Shankton State Pen: Welcome to Shankton State Pen, your new home for the foreseeable future. Since I've been warden we've had a few daring escapists among us, but they were promptly scooped back up and punished. No one escapes on my watch, so don't get any ideas! If you forget any of the rules around here, the guards batons will only be too glad to remind you!.
    Jungle Compound: Welcome to the jungle! Society has declared you a menace, so we've put you far away from any trace of it. Before you even entertain the thought of escaping, let me remind you that even if by some remote chance you make it past the fence, the wall, the perimeter jeeps and the guard checkpoint, there's no surviving out in the wild beyond.
    San Pancho: This is the notorious San Pancho, the roughest toughest and downright nastiest prison south of the border. The blistering heat and claustrophobic conditions here turns inmates angry and violent. Even the guards daren't enter.
    HMP Irongate: Listen here maggot. You know why you're here so no point crying about it. Generally feared as the highest security prison ever, HMP Irongate is where you'll live out the rest of your meaningless existence. Escape you say? Don't make me laugh! The handful of idiots who tried met a watery demise trying to swim off the island. Still, chin up eh?
  • Thermal Dissonance:
    • The cup of molten chocolate, a powerful One-Hit Kill weapon, will stay molten indefinitely. Even if you take it outside in the snow.
    • Due to how dialogue is randomly generated, you can have prisoners saying "is it cold here or is it just me?" in midday San Pancho or "it's boiling in here!" while walking through the snow of Stalag Flucht.
  • Tunnel King: You can become one, and dig your way to freedom. Just have plenty of braces for the tunnel and a place to move the dirt.
  • Whip Sword: You can make yourself a bladed whip from wire and razor blades. It's one of the two best weapons you can equip yourself with, the other being the Nunchucks.
  • X-Ray Sparks: These occur when you try to cut live electric fences, which will deal a serious amount of damage. Getting hit by a guard carrying a Stun Rod in HMP Irongate will also produce them.

"My boys found a Pothole lying around, and we traced it back to you."
"As punishment I'm placing you in solitary for a few days, hopefully it'll teach you a hard lesson!"