‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘The Escapists’ Just Don’t Mix


As a fan of prison-set TV shows like Oz and Orange is the New Black, I always thought The Escapists seemed like an interesting game. I liked the classic 8-bit graphics as well as the main goal of escaping from prison, which made it seem quite unique. I just could never bring myself to gamble the $20 for the digital download of the game, being the cheapskate that I am— so I never wound up playing it.

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Recently, I was checking out the sales for digital games on my Xbox One when I noticed that there was a version of The Escapists that featured characters from The Walking Dead comic books. I couldn’t believe I had never even heard of this game, as I basically eat everything up that has The Walking Dead‘s name on it. It was on sale for about $13, and I figured this would be a way to also finally check out The Escapists while playing a Walking Dead video game with 8-bit graphics.

The tutorial level of the game is entertaining. As Rick Grimes waking up from his coma, you make your way out of the hospital while learning the basic controls and gameplay. I was enjoying myself at first, because it was cool to see my love for The Walking Dead combined with my nostalgia for NES-style graphics. I couldn’t wait to see how the actual game would play, once I got to work with other characters and fight zombies.

Hershel’s farm was the locale of the next level. It didn’t take long for it to become obvious that the game had been edited from a prison simulator, as the very first task that was required of me was to go have a “head count” with all of the other characters. After that, I had to go eat breakfast in the dining area. Guess what was next for zombie slayer Rick Grimes? Chores— work detail, if you will. I was literally doing the laundry.

Breakfast: The most important part of any Walking Dead game.

You’ll notice the other characters saying some of their random lines used in Walking Dead comics, but it’s always oddly out of place. These often-repeated lines of dialogue are meaningless and don’t add anything to the story of the game. I get that it’s a tie to the comics, but they just don’t work when taken out of context and spoken over and over. For the most part, there’s only story “advancement” in the before and after cut scenes of each level, with only repetitive dialogue and monotonous side tasks to barely give it any extra flavor.

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The subject of clearing out the zombies in Hershel’s barn soon came up, and I was happy to actually see some walkers. I found a gun and gave some melee weapons to Tyreese and Dale, and we went in full force. The combat immediately proved itself to be rather disappointing, as the fight was unexciting and over before I knew it. Coming out on the other side of the barn, I came across the RV, and it was the end of the level. Was that really all there was to the stage? I had some breakfast, did a couple chores, killed a few zombies, ended the level— it had been just a matter of minutes.

I was hopeful things would pick up in the next level at the correctional facility, but it quickly felt exactly the same as the previous stage. You wake up, go do a head count, eat breakfast, and walk around. The other characters were repeating the same things they said at Hershel’s farm. Chores needed to be done. Walkers were present, but encounters with them were unexciting. Other than the backdrop, it seemed like I was having the same, uninspired experience.

“No time to kill that walker, Michonne. We’ll be late for breakfast!”

Maybe things did finally get better when Rick got to Woodbury and Alexandria, but I didn’t stick around to find out. I was completely and totally bored. I didn’t think there could be a way for an 8-bit video game based on The Walking Dead to bore me so badly, but The Escapists: The Walking Dead figured it out. I’ve played every video game based on the iconic zombie franchise thus far, and this is easily the worst one of them all.

And, yes, that includes The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.

Next: The Walking Dead: 5 Actors Who Could've Played Rick Grimes