Escape Mode

From Prison Architect Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Escape Mode.png Escape Mode


Be a Prisoner and try to escape.

Other Information:

  • None provided
See also:
Sandbox Mode

A hard fight against some guards.

Besides from building and managing prisons, there is also another game mode in Prison Architect: Escape Mode, where you take control of a prisoner attempting to escape from the prison.

Escape Mode will automatically start if you meet the failure condition of allowing too many deaths in a short period of time. You will be convicted of Criminal Negligence, and will spend time within your own prison as a prisoner. Escape Mode can also be started from the menu directly, by going to the "Extras" tab, where you can load any of your own save games to start playing there as a prisoner. Alternatively, you can also download prisons from the Steam Workshop and take a crack at escaping them through Escape Mode.

Who knows, if you put enough time in, you might actually become just as good at escaping prisons as building and running them. How is that for a little bit of irony?

Choosing a prisoner[edit | edit source]

Normally when starting up Escape Mode, the player will be put in control of a randomly generated prisoner with a random name and random body type. Be aware that this random prisoner can be a death row inmate (should the prison be setup to receive them), which would necessitate an instant restart as death row inmates cannot attack any object or leave their cell (thus soft locking you from ever escaping). However, it is possible to pick and choose a more specific prisoner by going to the "Names in the game" tab under the "Extras" section, and choosing a desired prisoner from that list and checking the box that says "This is me". After that, the player will always begin Escape Mode as that prisoner, unless they change it to another one later.

Do be mindful, however, of the fact that the chosen prisoner's gender does not actually really matter, as the game will force-switch you over to the correct gender for the prison upon start. So, for example, playing in a male prison with a female prisoner will result in the game switching over the body shape and sound effects to their male equivalents, with only the face and name remaining the same. This has no impact on actual gameplay, but is worth noting nonetheless.

Being a prisoner[edit | edit source]

As a prisoner, you are able to walk around in the prison, obtain contraband items, dig tunnels from your cell and also attack and fight other prisoners and staff. You cannot, however, participate in any Programs, Work or the Contraband Trade. You also do not participate in Gangs (Gang leaders can still recruit your prisoner, but apart from the cosmetic changes for the gang, nothing will change for them) but you can recruit your own prisoner squad.

By causing trouble (e.g. damaging and destroying things, fighting and murdering guards, prisoners and staff), you will build up reputation points, with which you can use to obtain reputation traits (like "strong", "tough", etc.) or improve existing ones (e.g. elevate "strong to "very strong" and "tough" to "extremely tough") along with using them to recruit other prisoners to join your crew and follow you around, and to gather reputations for them as well. Prisoners in your crew can help with gathering contraband, tunnel progress and aid in causing trouble. If your own character escapes the prison, is knocked unconscious or killed, you will switch over to playing any other prisoner in your squad.

Like other prisoners, you and your crew will not be able to interact with anything if handcuffed, and will move at a much slower pace.

You can move around with the WASD or the arrow keys. Most other actions are performed using the mouse. See Controls for more information.

Reputation points and traits[edit | edit source]

When you gather reputation points, you can spend them on building up the following reputations:

  • Strong: You hit harder (You inflict more damage per attack)
  • Tough: You can take more hits (You gain more health and Tasers will be less effective against you)
  • Deadly: You have a chance to kill with one hit (Each attack has a chance to instantly kill the target outright)
  • Quick: You can run faster (You move faster on foot and can hold Shift to sprint)
  • Instigator: Nearby prisoners will fight when you do (Causing trouble by destroying things or injuring and killing people will make other nearby prisoners more likely to do the same)
  • Skilled Fighter: You can disarm opponents when hitting them (Each attack has a chance to knock an opponent's weapon out of their hand, causing them to drop it on the ground)
  • Swimmer: You can swim (only with Island Bound DLC) (Allows your prisoner to pass through water, which is normally impossible, however, they can only do so for a limited amount of time before they drown)

Obtaining the reputations in their basic level costs one point, increasing them to their "extreme" level costing five points on top of that.

You can also use your points to recruit other prisoners into your squad, along with building up reputations for other existing members of your squad.

Recruiting the first squad member is one reputation point, the second two, the third four, the fourth eight and so on, with the price doubling every time. Prisoners that come with pre-existing reputations are more expensive to recruit.

You can skip punishments by spending one reputation point. (see Skipping time)

Contraband[edit | edit source]

Whilst wandering in a room containing contraband, you may come across contraband icons in certain rooms. When a contraband icon is displayed, move near the icon and hold the right mouse button for several seconds in order to steal it. This places the item into you inventory.

You can carry two contraband items at once in your inventory. They are displayed in your inventory at the bottom of the screen together with their properties (e.g. attack power, attack delay and whether they work as digging tools). Clicking one of the items or pressing 1 or 2 will equip the chosen item on your character to use as a weapon or tool. You can also drop an item by right-clicking on its inventory icon.

Inside any cell, you can stash your contraband items with right-click to avoid getting caught with them. Contraband can be stashed inside Beds, Shower Heads, Drains, Drawers, Bookcases and other objects.

In your own cell, you can start digging a tunnel starting from the Toilet. Digging tools will gradually wear out when doing so, so you will need to get new ones from time to time.

If you steal an item from a room, there is a three-hour timer before that item can be stolen again from that room. These timers end instantly when the player surrenders or is knocked out.

Beware of guards while smuggling contraband; they will still try to search you from time to time (such as after triggering a Metal Detector) and if they find any Contraband on you, you will end up in Lockdown or Solitary Confinement.

Squad[edit | edit source]

After you have recruited other prisoners to your squad, they will follow you where you go, unless you or they are punished, unconscious or dead. You can also click their name on their icon in the upper left of the screen to toggle whether they should follow you or do their own thing. By clicking on their face, you can switch which prisoner you want to control actively.

A quick way to switch between controlling squad members is by pressing "q". One can order all squad members to stop what they're doing and follow them by pressing "r". Pressing the button again makes the squad members stop following you and return back to their normal behavior.

By clicking the "x" in the upper right corner of each prisoner's picture, you can remove him from your squad.

Skipping time[edit | edit source]

When you are being punished (i.e. in solitary or locked in your cell), you can skip this punishment via the according button in the upper left of the screen. This will cost you a reputation point. Once you've recruited squad members, you can switch to playing as another squad member while one member is being punished. Skipping time will skip the punishment for every squad member.

When you are in your cell during the night time, you can skip the night by pressing the "Sleep" button in the upper left of the screen. This won't cost you anything.

At any time, you can use the time controls in the upper right of the screen to pause the game or play at double speed.

If you just want to get somewhere faster, you can hold the Shift key to run for a short while. This requires you to have the "Quick" reputation.

Regime and zones[edit | edit source]

As a prisoner, you are not allowed to enter any zones which are marked as staff-only or that are designated for another security category than you are. Trying to do so will be counted as an escape attempt and will alert nearby guards who will give chase.

However, you are usually not required to follow any regime. Except for the Sleep and Lockup regimes, you are always allowed to wander around freely. If you are caught outside your cell by a guard during the Sleep of Lockup regimes, you will be brought back there (but not punished) by a guard.

Game Over[edit | edit source]

The game is finished when you either manage to escape from the prison (with your whole squad), or if the entire squad dies (you cannot dismiss the last remaining squad member, i.e. yourself).

A "Game Over" screen giving you a score and some statistics is presented in both cases.

See Winning and Failure Conditions for more information also on how to win or fail in other game modes. In Escape Mode, there are only two ways in which a game can end; winning requires that everyone (alive) in the squad gets out and escapes and failure occurs when everyone in the squad dies.

Prison repair[edit | edit source]

Once the player surrenders or is knocked out, all damage done to a prison and its staff is repaired automatically over time.

All staff killed are replaced with new hires, new prisoners are eventually brought in through Intake to replace deceased ones and any dead bodies begin to be cleaned up by staff.

All fires are immediately extinguished, and damaged and destroyed objects as well as burnt down walls and the like get construction jobs created to replace them.

Tips[edit | edit source]

When you first begin your escape attempt, you should take some time to familiarise yourself with the prison and its general layout of rooms, objects, items and the like. Based on that, you should then decide whether you want to maximize your score or escape as fast as possible.

Accumulating reputation points[edit | edit source]

If you opt for score, or just want to cause mayhem, then you need to begin accumulating reputation points (or "rep points") to acquire traits and recruit squad members. The easiest way to obtain rep points at the start is through property damage and destruction, by attacking objects and items. Damaging an object/item will award one reputation point and fully destroying it (completely depleting its health) will award one reputation point, at two points per object. If there is only one object available, then one may need to fully destroy it in order for it to be worthwhile but if there are multiple objects available then one hit per object to damage it will be enough. Look for large groups of objects and preferably fragile ones.

  • A great source of rep points is the prison's Shower Room, as they usually contain large amounts of Shower heads and Drains, which are both fragile and can be damaged and destroyed aplenty for rep points.
  • If that is not available, then the next best option would be the Common Room, Canteens, Classrooms, Workshops and the Laundry Room, as they usually contain a fairly wide variety of items that can be damaged.
  • Finally, one can damage and destroy items inside the Cells, Holding Cells and Dormitories and even trespassing into restricted areas like Security offices, Staff Offices, Staff Rooms and possibly even the Storage, Delivery and Exports areas. Trespassing yields one rep point and in addition to property damage/destruction, these rooms often contain staff members that can be attacked and murdered for even more rep points.

Once you've upgraded any amount of reputation points into the "Deadly" trait and/or assemble a significant squad, you'll be able to begin reliably murdering staff for much more points, essentially obsoleting property damage as your primary method to obtain reputation. As you further upgrade your prisoners this will become even easier, eventually allowing you to quickly rack up hundreds of points at once per fight.

Reputation traits[edit | edit source]

The best reputation path for most well-constructed prisons is: fully upgrading "Deadly", fully upgrading "Tough", fully upgrading "Skilled Fighter", fully upgrading "Strong", and fully upgrading "Quick" in that order. For most prisons the remaining two reputations should only be invested into after you've recruited a sizeable squad who you've also fully upgraded with the latter reputations.

"Deadly" should always be gotten first due to the fact that killing a staff member gives at least two reputation points and downing them drops their gear which you can use to continue the fight or quickly stash for later use; this allows you to repeatedly start fights with staff and always gain enough points to both skip your punishment and invest into the next reputations/recruitments. While attempting to escape, it's best to only attack staff members as they will stop attacking you once you're unconscious and replenish quite quickly; meanwhile attacking prisoners yields less reputation points, they take more time to be replaced, and they will kill you after you're downed if allowed.

When combined with the "Deadly" trait, the Drill becomes the best weapon in the gamemode, as its low attack cooldown gives the trait several chances to apply per second, causing it to kill most targets almost instantly. Remember that the "Deadly" trait can also activate when attacking objects (destroying them), meaning you can also use the Drill to quickly destroy whatever you need to in the moment (especially useful against doors or for causing widespread damage extremely easily).

"Tough" should then be fully invested into because the extra durability will allow your fights with staff to last longer, thus further increasing your point gain. Additionally, investing enough into it allows you to handle Armed Guards more easily, as they cannot instantly kill you with their shotguns and the enhanced toughness also makes Tasers less effective, which makes combat all the easier and less annoying.

Fully investing into "Skilled Fighter" simply makes combat with guards much easier since you will often disarm them of their club/weapon, which you can use to deadly efficiency with the fully invested "Deadly" perk. Fully investing into "Strong" will further accelerate your now exponential reputation growth as by this point you will be able to regularly kill multiple members of staff in each fight. Fully investing into "Strong" also makes it easier for you to quickly break through doors.

Finally, fully investing into "Quick" makes general movement and combat faster due to your swiftness, accelerating your progress even more.

Recruitment[edit | edit source]

On the topic of squad composition, be mindful of who you recruit. Having squad members in multiple different security levels can be extremely useful in reaching otherwise inaccessible areas of the prison. As an example, having a Medium- or Minimum-Security prisoner or two in a squad of Maximum-Security prisoners can allow the lower-security prisoners to function as "inside men" or "contraband moles" which use their access to restricted areas to gather contraband and smuggle it to their higher-security brethren who can put it to great use without needing to worry about the risks involved.

Although, never recruit a Death Row inmate as they are both useless as a squad member (due to their extremely restricted regime that keeps them in their cell) and while player controlled are actually unable to pick up any items, fight, recruit anyone, or actually leave the map to escape (thus soft-locking you once the rest of the squad escapes as you cannot delete the last remaining member of a squad).

Also be wary of recruiting Protective Custody and Criminally Insane inmates. While they will function fine when recruited and part your squad, the moment you switch to playing as one, the game bugs out and causes the entire map to become a restricted area, causing any nearby guards to instantly become alerted.

At this stage you should be able to regularly get into fights that yield more than enough points to recruit and upgrade a sizable squad. So, your choice to invest in any of the remaining skills is largely dependent on the layout of the prison you're escaping from and if you have ready accessibility to new recruits. If you do have ready access to new recruits, you should first fill up your squad and upgrade them with the prior reputations before investing in these last two niche reputations. For example, the "Instigator" perk is only useful in instigating riots or causing minor distractions for guards while the "Swimmer" perk is completely useless in most cases and should always be taken last, if at all, due to it's niche application (especially if there is no water to speak of in or around the prison).

Contraband[edit | edit source]

When it comes to Contraband, there are plenty of sources for it. Depending on whether you want weapons for fighting or a lighter for some casual arson, there are many useful things to be found. You can also stash contraband for later use in: toilets, drains, beds, tunnels, and bins. A common strategy is to stash contraband in locations that won't be searched in the event you're caught, such as other people's cells or shower rooms.

Rooms to look for combat contraband include, in decreasing order of desirability:

  • Armory (Usually not accessible, but highly worthwhile): Weapons such as Tasers, Handguns, Shotguns and Sniper Rifles (best firearm in the gamemode)
  • Workshop: Hammers, Screwdrivers, Saws, Drills, Shivs and (Improvised) Wooden Pickaxes
  • Storage: Hammers, Screwdrivers, Saws and Drills
  • Exports: Drills
  • Forestry: Axes, Shears and Spades
  • Kitchen: Knives, Forks, Spoons
  • Security: Batons, Jail Keys and Lighters
  • Morgue: Knives and Scissors
  • Library: Fountain Pens and Scissors
  • Office: Fountain Pens and Lighters
  • Cleaning Cupboard: (Improvised) Wooden Club and Laundry: Rope

Note that the player can only usefully utilise Weapons and Tools contraband. Narcotics (Needle, Poison, Drugs and Medicine) and Luxuries (Booze, Cigs, Mobile Phone and Gold Pocket Watch) cannot be used in any useful way, as the player cannot trade them.

Attriting the Prison[edit | edit source]

The process of grinding your reputation points will have already begun this if done aggressively (doing the most possible damage as often as possible, whether that be repeatedly murdering staff or destroying critical infrastructure). Not only will the bodies literally start to pile up, but the prison itself will start to degrade, causing spontaneous riots and/or sluggish repair times if you do enough damage. To specifically accomplish this, you want to begin murdering any and all workmen you spot as their deaths will significantly slow down the prison's ability to recover from any damage it incurs (while staff do get replaced, this can be overwhelmed with relative ease for non-guard staff). Furthermore, any and all deaths begin to strain the prison since it clogs the emergency vehicle side of the roadway with ambulances, occupies the time of free staff (hampering their ability to respond/takeover for those who go on break), and also has a slight effect on the "Safety" need of all prisoners (making the danger level go up slightly, thus increasing the risk of riots). Also, corpses jam open doors, allowing you to pass through what would be otherwise locked doorways unimpeded (hence you should focus your initial rampages near critical doorways so that next time you have a clear path rather than being forced to steal jail keys or smash through).

Similarly, repeatedly murdering critical staff such as cooks can cause widespread riots since prisoners will begin to starve. At a certain point, your rampages will often be able to do all of the above at once, severely debilitating the prison.

But, the single best way to attrit a prison is arson as fire can cause widespread destruction if it becomes an inferno. Depending on the layout of the prison, what you manage to ignite, and for how long the fire is allowed to spread, you can completely destroy the ability of a prison to function for a significant amount of time (often more than enough time to mount an escape if you wish). The below section describes in detail the tactics needed to ensure the maximum effectiveness of your inferno.

Starting fires[edit | edit source]

The Lighter, (found in Offices, Staff Rooms, Visitation Rooms and Security Rooms) is a special type of Contraband that is highly desirable to the player, as it allows the player to start fires. Fire can be put to great use as it can be used to damage and kill staff, block off rooms to prevent guards from getting in and, most notably, used to burn down walls, doors and floors, allowing the player to temporarily create entryways and access points to otherwise inaccessible areas. Burning down a wall and opening up a pathway out of the prison to freedom is quite the satisfying experience. Additionally, if crucial rooms suffer damage or burn down altogether, this puts them out of commission hampers the function of the prison, which can make escaping easier.

However, starting a fire will automatically result in the Fire Brigade being called, who if allowed will quickly extinguish any fires with water before they can have any major impact on the prison, which also makes whatever they soak unable to be ignited for some time. As a result, you want to start your fire somewhere that will take the firemen a long time to path to. Then, run around the whole prison spamming the Lighter and setting everything that can be ignited on fire. The result will be that there will be several fires spread out all over the prison and the brigade can only extinguish so much at a time, thus causing most to spread out of control. Furthermore, you can opt to murder the firemen before they get to the fire. While this will instantly call in another fire brigade, this can be exploited to continuously farm infinite score by murdering each new arrival or be avoided entirely by ensuring the firemen are all knocked unconscious rather than killed. Doing the latter would be the best choice to ensure your inferno spreads unopposed.

This is the average result of a game of Escape Mode when utilizing all of the above strategies. Note that your score can be made as high as you like due to the infinite number of staff/new prisoners to attack once you've built your squad and decimated the prison.

Also beware of Sprinklers, as they will also hamper the spread of fire. You can try to break them preemptively or, better yet, destroy the Water Pump Station supplying them (or the Power Station powering that).

Just make sure to also practice adequate fire safety, as fire is very dangerous and the last thing you want to happen is burning to death in the very fire you ignited. Not to mention that ending the fight automatically puts out all fires, meaning you'll want to stay alive and in the fight for as long as possible. For best results, get your squad size to the maximum size and do the following:

  • Always make sure to have an escape route from any area you intend set ablaze. You DO NOT want to end up stuck inside a burning room.
  • Invest in the "Tough" and "Very Tough" reputation points, as that makes you more durable to fire damage and allows you to run straight through for a short while it if needed.
  • Make proper use of the "Lunge" move. If used correctly, you can lunge your way through a raging blaze without issues, as the contact time with the fire will be minimal.
  • Ensure multiple squad members have a lighter, that way if the one you're controlling goes down you can still ignite new fires.

Tunneling[edit | edit source]

Tunneling, while a feature of the gamemode, is actually not a particularly beneficial way to escape as it avoids most gameplay in Escape Mode when compared to brute forcing your way through the staff and is much less feasible in a well constructed prison with regular dog patrols. So, if done at all, tunneling should be reserved for navigating around the prison or contraband storage rather than use as a form of escape. Also, be mindful that Escape Mode tallies score via the amount of people who escape and the amount of people you kill (both of which are much more limited via tunneling). As a result, it only has marginal utility in speedruns in certain poorly built prisons (as those built to such low standards usually have other, easier ways to escape that also grant more score).

In order to start digging a tunnel, you must acquire a piece of contraband that is listed as a "Digging Tool" (eligible items display that text in blue in their tooltip when moused over in the inventory) and then approach the Toilet in your cell to start digging a tunnel.

Once a tunnel is started, you can enter it from the Toilet and start digging your way onwards in any direction by using a digging tool to dig your way through the ground. Digging tools will wear out over time, so you will need to procure new ones to replace ones that wear out. Digging tools can be stashed inside your cell or your squadmates' cells in preparation for digging the tunnel, or you can also stash them inside other prisoner's cells to hide them from cell searches. The ideal times to dig the tunnel is at night, when everyone else is asleep, as there is less traffic in the prison at that time and less chance of a wayward guard discovering your little excavation project, though the tunnel can be dug at any time when no one is looking, including during lockup, shower, work or other parts of the Regime.

While inside the tunnel, you are completely invisible to all Security except for Dogs and you can stash contraband inside the tunnel. However, if a Guard sees you entering or exiting a tunnel, whether through the Toilet it started from or somewhere else, the tunnel will be exposed and the guards will become alerted to the escape attempt and attack. Once all escapees are subdued and locked up into solitary confinement, Workmen will arrive to remove the tunnel. As such, make sure to keep the tunnel a secret and only enter and exit it when no one is looking.

A tunnel can be dug in any direction through any kind of material except for water. Loose, undisturbed ground is the easiest to dig through, floors, foundations and walls take longer and Perimeter Walls take the longest to dig through, but all of it is doable.

At any point in the tunnel that is not underneath a wall or other obstruction, one can dig out an exit to exit the tunnel, and ideally one should do so once they are outside the prison altogether, out in the wilderness and freedom around it. It is possible to dig a tunnel out past the play area "out of bounds", so as to say, and if an exit is created there, then exiting the tunnel at that point will result in the prisoner instantly escaping.

AI-controlled squad members also cannot enter a tunnel, only player-controlled inmates can do it.

Gallery[edit | edit source]