The Escapists: The Walking Dead Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

The Escapists: The Walking Dead Review




Wise man says never judge a book by its cover. An even wiser man said to never judge a game’s cuteness by its lack of pixels. In a very much more identical than not follow up to Mouldy Toof’s release earlier this year, The Escapists, comes the in-house developed The Escapists: The Walking Dead by Publisher/Developer Team17 Digital Ltd., along with collaboration from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s own Skybound Entertainment, but like the grammatical order of the title, this game is very much an Escapists game first and foremost, and a Walking Dead game a very distant secondary.


Watch out, don’t get 8-bit.

This is to say that when I was playing this game for review, my hopes of progression were very much predicated on me quickly and thoughtfully managing the mechanics of the game, which are highly dedicated to: repetition, navigation, and memory.

The Escapists: The Walking Dead brings together the mechanics of the original game with the licensed story of the seminal comic series (note: not the television series). You play as Rick Grimes through a series of five different levels. Each level represents a key location fans should recognize from the books whether it is Alexandria, the Greene Family Farm, or Woodbury. The first of these levels, Harrison Memorial Hospital, serves only as a backdrop for a much-more-linear-than-the-rest-of-the-game tutorial that introduces Rick as he awakens from a coma only to be directed toward specific prompts that introduce key game mechanics that allow for the level to be cleared and the story to move on. Yeah, about that story. Considering this is a game whose style is defined through a lack of V.O as well as seemingly dark lamentations from NPCs made kind of cute and humours thorough presentation, the story should not be the real draw; if it is, I would suggest staying as clear as possible from the game.

For those of you unfamiliar with the previous installment, The Escapists series is a top-down 8-bit strategy game that can be compared to games like This War of Mine in terms of anxiety-inducing management systems. Whereas the latter game embraces a melodious tone though a realistic perspective, The Escapists: The Walking Dead, and the vanilla game, gains an identity in dark undertones made humourous through a light-hearted coat of paint reminiscent more so of the NES-era. Though this worked well for the previous game’s play on prison B-movie tropes, the fact that this game attempts at times to thematically attach itself to the license by setting a darker tone through comic-panel cut scenes of events taken straight from the comic, random lamentations from NPCs at the breakfast/lunch/dinner table, and an overarching goal to save the life of Rick’s son, Carl, who was accidentally shot leading into the second level and is now slowly dying, spoils the novel humour the first game utilized pretty well. For a game that upholds duck tape so highly and allows you to raise your intelligence level by playing games though this seriousness can only be justified up to a point.


But that’s where the duck tape I need to make that gun is!

Concurrent to this, the rest of the game is awfully similar to the original with some slightly moderate changes. For instance, poignant to your surroundings, the “heat” level indicator that gauges just how much on your case security guards were in the first game now informs the player just how aggressive the zombies surrounding your barricade become: if it gets too high, the frequency of indoor invasion becomes more a common issue. Concurrently, the previous “reputation” system of The Escapists has been replaced with a “morale” system that is dictated by the players ability to complete individual quests for their fellow survivors – morale being a very important component to the game considering surrounding characters will not follow you out into the desolate land of zombies for combat assistance unless their happy enough to do so. You will need as much help as you can get. Going out into the zombie-infested surrounding areas on your own is a big mistake as you will surely die even if your strength and speed are nearly maxed out.

This means that not only would it be in your best interest to have a happy crew, but also a properly equipped crew. In order for that to be the case, it is up to you solely to craft and supply them with the weaponry needed. The crafting system is thankfully the same meta-silliness that it was in the first game. Considering this was my first time ever playing in this particular series, I found figuring out combinations that worked took some time to get used to, but once a general understanding of each components specific role in building a thing was reached I was well on my way to making all types of stuff. Speaking of stuff, guns are also a new component of the game. Though hard to come by and make, guns serve as the best possible weapon when fighting considering all you have to do is hold the left trigger to aim and press the right trigger to shoot from distances safe enough to ensure you will not take a hit.

Aside from the few minor changes mentioned above, the rest of the game is pretty much a subservient to the design of the original game. This is not a bad thing per se. Though the levels themselves could take you around three or four hours each to complete, it is just that as the price of the game is, $18 seems a little high for five (really, four proper length levels as the first level only takes around ten-to-fifteen minutes to complete) levels of most of the same stuff that was released only seven months ago. What people are really putting their money toward here is the recognizable package the game is wrapped in, which though a nice idea, does not merit a recommendation from myself unless you’re way into all thing video game having to do with The Walking Dead and you have never played The Escapists before. Aside from that criteria, if you enjoy running around like a chicken with its head cut off so that you can find a battery quick enough to make it to the dinner table on time you might also might want to check out this game, but even so I would probably steer you in the direction of the more well-paced The Escapists than The Escapists: The Walking Dead.

This review was based on a code that was supplied to Mouse n Joypad by the Developer, Publisher or their PR Company.