The Escapists – The Walking Dead review (Xbox One)

The Walking Dead edition of The Escapists stays true to both the original game and the comic book series, yet is quite different from the prison-centered iterations that came before it.

We’ve already seen quite a few videogame spinoffs of The Walking Dead, from the successful Telltale series of episodic adventures to the pretty horrible “survival instinct”. The Escapists – The Walking Dead is very different from those games, and it finds a way to make things work with the already established Escapists formula.

The original The Escapists focused on, as you’d expect with a title like that, escaping from prison. Making sure guards don’t notice you, you’d collect tools, you’d find inmates to help you and eventually you’d try to make a break for it. In between all that, you’re spending a lot of time crafting items from the materials you find – and if you get caught you lose all your progress on account of everything being confiscated. It was an addictive formula with an 8-bit style and it allowed for plenty of creativity in coming up with ways in which to escape. It was your choice to either channel your inner Andy Dufresne or go out using plenty of violence. In the Alcatraz content that was released later, you could even follow in Clint Eastwood’s footsteps and attempt an escape from the famous SF Bay prison.

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Now, an edition has been released that focuses on The Walking Dead. More specifically, the comic books that preceded the hit TV series. Obviously this brings some major changes to the gameplay, but it’s still a surprisingly good fit. Instead of focusing on escaping, your main goal is now to survive – and once you do that, your aim is to guide your group of people through each of the five levels unharmed. Your progress is non-linear, which is great for creative reasons but can also frustrate when you invest a lot of time in a way out that ends up not working out.

The game’s shift in focus means you no longer have to worry about guards catching you and grabbing your things, but it does mean that you have to carefully manage your inventory and teammates. If you don’t arm them enough, you’ll risk losing them to the undead – especially if you’re not there to revive them. If you fall prey to one of the zombies yourself then it doesn’t mean ‘game over’, but you do lose a day’s progress and will wake up in your bed again the next day.

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You have to scavenge for supplies and make sure that group morale stays high enough so that your team follows you, because there’s safety in numbers. There’s a risk and reward dynamic in play as well, with bigger rewards to be found in more remote areas – but reaching them and returning safely isn’t exactly easy.

The Escapists – The Walking Dead is a fun experience that is certain to please fans of the original videogame as well as The Walking Dead fans who are looking to play something different than the Telltale adventures. If you liked the show and/or comic as well as The Escapists, then you’re in for a treat.

Score: 7.8/10

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