I’ve been in and out of Mouldy Toof’s prisons for years now; they just can’t keep a master criminal like me locked up for long before I’m forging the perfect, albeit unconventional, escape. Having been recaptured numerous times, the crooked cops have washed their hands of me and I’ve been sold to the travelling circus, where I’ll be under the strict regime of the Ringmaster. But will I entertain the masses with a spectacular disappearing act, or could there be a pie in the face waiting for my failed attempt?
One thing’s for sure: there’s no time for clowning around!
The Big Top Breakout DLC adds yet another crazy slammer to the already well-populated list of prisons in The Escapists 2 and sees the circus come to town. Immediately it becomes clear that despite being a circus, you’ll still need to follow a stringent routine if you don’t want to risk the wrath of the overly strong looking guards and, in some cases, their fabulously brightly coloured attack poodles – ok, it’s worth misbehaving to see them in all their glory.
From the morning roll call to the evening one, you must adhere to the rules to stay under the radar and work on the escape. There are the usual time slots for meals, exercise, showering and free time, but where this content sets itself apart firstly is in the jobs. The opportunity to paint faces, feed the lions, hang up posters and blow-up balloon animals will provide you with the much needed coins to enable the purchase of various items from the other inmates acting as vendors. These jobs suit the theme well and the time constraints actually piles on the pressure; especially when having to acquire the components, craft the posters and then paste them up in various locations via a skill-based mini-game.
The real reason the Ringmaster wants all of these inmates though is for when it’s Showtime. It’s at this time that he needs everyone to perform one of four different acts – juggling, hula hooping, riding unicycle and fire-breathing. Disappointingly, all of the acts are executed via the exact same mini-game and it gets monotonous after the first performance. The only good thing about that is that it pushes you on to find a route out quicker.
Just like the other prisons, Big Top Breakout has multiple solutions which enable you to escape, with a unique way just for multiplayer and solo players too. Upon getting a tour of the place, it becomes clear that the massive elephant is probably involved in one solution, and the giant cannon which needs fixing is most likely another. You can obtain tips of how to go about escaping, should you not be an expert in the mechanics of circus equipment. Finding the necessary materials to fix up the cannon takes longer than figuring out what you need – even longer when you get drawn to the idea of crafting custard pies and a super weapon involving a rubber chicken, just because you can.
Doing favours is another way of earning coins to spend on materials or clues, and these are generally akin to those seen before: deliver a package to a specific inmate, give someone a beating, destroying evidence etc. There are also a couple of Achievement related quest lines to follow, including an interesting one given by the resident magician, The All Seeing Nero in my case. Partaking in the favours helps to pass the time as you work out a plan and often puts your criminal mind to the test.
As far as the design goes, it’s as cheery as a prison can be, with balloons, grabber machines and of course the big top itself all helping to create the circus atmosphere. The animals are cool to see too – although I was shocked to see a camel and a zebra in the enclosures. It’s the sound that’s the icing on the cake for setting the scene as it’s very jovial and light-hearted in its tone, which suits the circus theme.
The Big Top Breakout is cheap, cheerful and worth trying your hand at escaping from at least once, but maybe even twice or more to see the other possible ways out. The whole setting is a lot of fun, the clown inspired customisation items are welcome and the jobs are well suited. It’s the Showtime activities that let it down though, with the utterly uninspiring mini-game copied and pasted across each of them. It would’ve been good to see it being a bit wackier overall in truth, giving the standard routines some extra pizzazz!
You should pick it up if you like what The Escapists 2 already has to offer as it’s more of the same, in a good way, just with a circus twist. Surely you want to see the most vicious poodles ever featured in gaming?