We love our mobile games, obviously. But smartphones and tablets can feel like a prison for certain console and PC games.

Poor or ill-fitting ports feel trapped and constrained in these tiny boxes with their restrictive rules on controls and interfaces.

Back in 2017, The Escapists didn't quite manage to bust out of its mobile restraints. But it did secure day release.

Can The Escapists 2 go one step further?

Prison Break

As the tortured metaphor of that intro should hopefully tell you, The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout is all about busting out of prison. Or rather, prisons.

Pick one of five themed prisons from the roster, and you'll be placed into a completely self-contained correctional facility.

Aside from a brief tutorial section and a couple of introductory missions, The Escapists 2 can feel a little strange to new players. There's no goal here other than to escape, and the shape and details of that plan are entirely up to you.


Sure shank redemption

There might be no set goal, but there are certainly plenty of rules to follow and places to be. The life of a prisoner is built around routine.

When the bell goes for dinner, you'd better drop what you're doing and hot foot it to the mess hall. The same applies to showering, exercising and bed time.

Fail to show up to any of these, and the truncheon-happy guards will be only too pleased to send you to the infirmary.

If you take up a job (handy for funding your escape attempt), you'll need to be both punctual proficient at the mini-game-like task itself.


Let's get busy

All of which can make The Escapists 2 sound like so much busy work, but you'll soon figure out ways to work the system. You just need to show up in the appropriate room at the appropriate point n the day - the rest of your time is yours to spend as you see fit.

And there's an impressive range of things you can be doing to further your cause. You can run illicit errands for your cell-mates, perhaps stealing or planting items, or working another cell mate over in the store cupboard.

You can craft a dizzying range of specialist items, such as pick axes and weapons and dummies to take your place in your cell at night.

How do you want to fly this particular coop? By skulking through vents and then digging your way to freedom? Or through the front door, dressed as a guard and with a purloined key card?

All avenues are possible in The Escapists 2, if you have the time and patience to work the angles. This is a finely tuned sand box, and it can be a lot of fun feeling out its overlapping systems.


Closer to freedom

The Escapists 2 is a flat out better game than the original in every way. It's better-looking, more varied, and more intuitive.

There's also local multiplayer for up to four people, though it's a shame that there's no online option like in the other versions. Indeed, this isn't the complete Escapists 2 experience by any means, with fewer prisons and no prison editor.

The fact remains this still isn't an ideal mobile experience either. There are three virtual control systems to choose from here, but none of them are perfect. It's still fiddly lining up interactive items and, while applying crafted items to the world can feel vague and confusing.

It's good to see that the combat system has been refined for mobile with a handy lock-on mechanism, though.

The Escapists 2: Pocket Breakout is a neat, charming sandbox experience and a notable improvement on the original. But there's no escaping the fact that it's simply not at its best on mobile.