The Escapists The Walking Dead is an extremely successful blend of the awesome 8-bit indie hit The Escapists and the comic book series of The Walking Dead. Playing as Rick Grimes, you must lead your group to safety though five areas.
At its undead heart lies all of The Escapists’ mechanics – leveling up through exercise and reading, simple item crafting and the way in which you must plot, prepare and execute your escape. Of course this time you aren’t escaping from the clutches of the prison guards, but avoiding the undead horde and solving the story based objectives that centre on key events in the comic series.
The game starts as you wake in Harrison Memorial Hospital – the whole level is one big tutorial, taking you by the hand and introducing you to the mechanics behind the game. Other levels have you leading your group through Greene Family Farm, Meriwether Correctional Facility, Woodbury and Alexandria.
Each day follows a similar pattern to the core game of The Escapists, but instead of annoying the guards if you misbehave, the zombie threat level increases with undead encounters more likely to happen within your safe area. Missing meal times, chores and head counts also has a negative effect on your group morale, and they will be less likely to follow you on scavenging missions – not a massive issue – but team mates will come in handy when you venture further afield in search of the more valuable loot.
New items appear in the various desks spread throughout each level every day, and it’s the collection and crafting of items that allows you to progress by making tools, or weapons to survive. This is where your time will vanish. In-between your daily chores, you are free to scavenge but venturing outside your safe area can attract a higher threat level so your best bet is to do this at night. Venturing further afield rewards you with the best loot – like duct tape or timber – there’s also backpacks lying around that contain crafting notes or collectible comic books, there’s even firearms or special melee weapons to find too which can be given to your group so that they can fend off the undead themselves.
If you do get on the wrong side of a zombie you start from your bed the next morning, the threat level will have increased and you will have missed the opportunity to save, which is only offered should you choose to retire to your bed at the end of each day. If a member of your group is knocked out by a zombie, you have a short window of time to revive them and send them to their bed to recover – fail and the next time you see them will be as their undead corpse shuffles towards you.
One of the harshest lessons in The Escapists was punishment for failure – your progress was reset and all your items confiscated. The Walking Dead edition allows you to continue your progress without punishment and allows you to leave as many items lying around as you please. It makes for a far more enjoyable experience with greater exploration opportunities without the worry of the ever-watchful prison guards ruining your fun.
Money is better used too. Doing chores for your group earns you coins that can be spent with vendors who make their way out at night and can be located at several locations, offering strong shovels, pickaxes, ammo and weapons and more for your perusal.
Just like The Escapists, The Walking Dead edition is really addictive. Hours drifted by as I played “just one more day”, building up Rick’s strength and gathering resources to execute my master plan to complete an objective and move my group on to the next area. The Escapists The Walking Dead is a fantastic addition to the series and I hope there’s more themed Escapists games planned!
Thanks to Xbox and Team17 for their support
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