The Escapists is a prison simulator and naturally escaping is the end goal as you try and prosper behind bars. The game has been available via Steam Early Access since late summer (you can read our preview of an early version here) and it has also been confirmed for release on Xbox One (via ID@Xbox).
The Escapists is being developed by Chris Davis, solo developer at Mouldy Toof Studios (whose previous work includes Spud's Quest) and he is being supported by Team 17's publishing arm.
"The Escapists is a jail break simulator that places you in a various prisons and tasks you with the job of escaping," says Davis when explaining the basic concept. "You'll have to keep up the pretence of a good inmate by following the prison routines, doing prison jobs, favour requests for inmates, juggling opinions with other inmates, stealing and crafting tools and weapons, and so on. Escaping often involves a fair bit of thought, time, and work to pull off. Not to mention there are multiple escape routes to consider!"
So far it's proved a success, and the feedback has been encouraging. The concept appears to have really hit home with gamers, and the whole experience appears to have been hugely positive for Davis.
"It's been a lot of work but the positive response so far has made it all worth it. It's gone from a little game I started as a hobby, to being successfully Kickstarted, greenlit by the Steam Community, picked up by Team17, developed for Xbox One, featured live at Microsoft's Gamescom conference, and then up to now where it continues to do really well on Steam Early Access. Fans of the game have been very helpful with their feedback and support all along the way."
That naturally takes us to the start of the process, and the inspiration comes from an unlikely source - a sandbox style game on ZX Spectrum with a school theme.
"It started out as a tribute to one of my favourite ZX Spectrum games called Back 2 Skool, which was probably the first sandbox style game," says Davis. "Except I drifted away from the school idea and replaced it with a prison one, which had a much better endgame and potential. It's a fairly untouched concept as well which made it a good pick."
Funny how a game meant to simulate school life somehow turns into a prison simulator...
Obviously work on The Escapists continues, and as is often the case with a lively and wonderful community, their ideas may result in more work for the developer...
"My hope is once the core game is wrapped up I can see where else the idea can go," reveals Davis. "There's a lot of ideas and suggestions flying around the community that'd be silly to ignore. Other than that, I'm looking forward to the launch of the game on Xbox One and seeing its response!"
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