AKA "Let's Escape From Prison, But More So!"
The original Escapists was a retro-looking prison breakout game where you could tunnel, cut, beat, or sneak your way out of a varied number of compounds. It complemented the cutesy visuals with a dash of wit and some enjoyably tough prisons where figuring out how to get out was a tremendous puzzle.
The Escapists 2 does what I think a lot of sequels forget to do—leave what works alone, and sand down the rough patches.
Visually, The Escapists 2 almost feels like the 16-bit successor to its predecessor in the graphics department; I was actually put off by how different it looked when I first started it, but going back to the original now feels tough. Bigger than the graphics changes, however, are two major additions that make the game much, much easier. First, there is now a crafting guide, so you can see nearly all the items you can make in the game, broken down by how high an intelligence stat you need. This removes a lot of guesswork and makes it much easier when you're trying to quickly copy a guard's key or just can't remember two dozen recipes. Secondly, your prison desk now has a hidden compartment, meaning a limited number of your contraband items are safe from pilfering and cell tosses. In the previous game if your desk was searched it often meant losing most of your progress, so you'd save time by just restarting from your last save; here, I never had to do that. The game also features an auto-save function that some might find useful, and others will want to switch back to manual (achieved by sleeping in your prison bed.) Especially for TrueAchievement hunters, I recommend manual saving (which allows you to escape a prison and reload your save for other achievements on the same map later much easier.)
While the crafting guide and desk changes make the game easier in a lot of ways (along with the fact that your stats no longer decay over time, saving you a lot of cumulative grinding on the maps to keep them boosted) there are new additions that correspondingly crank up the difficulty. If you miss routines regularly you start accumulating stars, which boosts the number of guard patrols or sends contraband-sniffing dogs out into the prison. Guards pursue you at lower guard heat levels and some missions have snipers that will cut you down if you're out in the open, meaning you have to plan out your guard beatdowns a bit more carefully.
The other big changes to the game are new prisons and game modes. Transport prisons give you a limited amount of time to figure out how to escape; in general guards will immediately attack you unless you're camouflaged so it ends up feeling a little more intense and urgent than the usual experience. Also completely new is a multiplayer component of the game; you can either play cooperatively with a friend online or in local split screen to escape a prison, accessing certain areas that are locked out in single-player playthroughs. Alternatively you can play a Versus mode where you are competing to escape the prison first. I don't think these additions are as fun as the regular game modes, but they're there if you want them, and there is something enjoyable about collaborating with another player to beat a prison faster or hide contraband.
The achievements in this game are a bit more grindy than the previous game, with more jobs to meet quotas for, more time needed spent in showers or solitary confinement, and needing to complete the unique escape for each prison rather than just busting out the same way each time. There are also unique co-op escapes with achievements tied to them, which can technically be done solo with another controller but are much easier with a friend, and a requirement to win a number of multiplayer games, which takes around 2 hours to grind with a boosting partner. Expect this game to take 25-30 hours even following guides, and a bit longer if you prefer the challenge of figuring out how to escape prisons yourself (if you want hints without a full guide, you can hit up payphones in the game for details on different escape methods.)
If you liked the first Escapists, be prepared to like this one that much more.