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Hands-On: The Escapists 2 & Aven Colony at PAX East 2017

Team 17 had a great showing at PAX East this year, you can check out our coverage of Yooka-Laylee here. In addition, they also had hands-on demos of The Escapists 2 and Aven Colony. As expected, The Escapists 2 is the follow up to the 2015 strategy-role playing game The Escapists by Mouldy Toof Studios. They’re back and ready to throw you into prison again. Aven Colony by Mothership Entertainment is a sci-fi real-time strategy game where you must build a thriving city on a harsh, alien world.

The Escapists 2

Multiplayer is the biggest addition to The Escapists 2. It features local and online drop-in and drop-out matches, making the process smooth and easy. You can also choose to play cooperatively or against other players. Details on exactly what the matches will entail is still in the works, but it’s certainly a big addition to the The Escapists formula.

The crafting systems and character customization are also getting a lot of improvements. Being able to fully customize you character should provide unique experiences every time you play. Also, being able to show your unique character online should be a rewarding experience. While most of the tasks I performed in the demo were fairly generic, I did get a feel for the game’s sense of humor. Running around the prison in my underwear understandably attracted a lot of unwanted attention. As a result, I spent a lot of time peeling potatoes in my skivvies. It’s good to see the art and attitude of the original game still intact, and it will be interesting to see what the multiplayer brings to the table.

Expect to see The Escapists 2 later this year on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

Aven Colony

Aven Colony is a city builder where you must construct and manage a frontier colony on a newly discovered world. The interface is pretty straight forward, buildings must be connected to each other and pathways must be built to allow power and people to flow. You must also plant various crops to keep your citizens fed. I didn’t see much past the intuitive tutorial, but monitoring your citizen’s behavior and happiness seems to be a factor in the game. While you do not appear to have direct control over them, you can assign them to jobs and monitor them through CCTV style cameras, which was a little weird at first.

There will also be enemies to contend with and missions to complete. Missions will include tasks like building certain structures or discovering special artifacts. You’ll also need to be on the look out for invading aliens. The game has a vibrant, colorful art style that really pops. The planet I saw featured a lot of green foliage, steaming geysers, and imposing rock formations looming in the distance. It looked familiar, but alien at the same time. The colony buildings have a lot of detail and there’s something satisfying about seeing transport ships buzzing around on their daily routines.

Aven Colony is expected to arrive on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One later this year. That’s right, console gamers will be getting an RTS to play in the living room! I’m told that the team at Mothership Entertainment has been hard at work making sure the gamepad support is top notch.

Check out our interview with Bethany Aston on the PAX East show floor below if you are interested in seeing the games in action.

I remember playing Super Mario Bros. and Metroid on the NES with my older brother, and never being able to land on the aircraft carrier in Top Gun. I faked being sick so I could stay home from school and play Quake II once, but now I request days off from work instead of lying. Age of Empires II is still the best RTS, Half-Life is still the best FPS, and I still think the end of Mass Effect 3 was great!