Are you ready for a spectacular, blood-splattered Danganronpa-style visual novel, where every day is a brush with death? Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue is not that game.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a big kick out of Inescapable so far, and I’m absolutely going to see it through to its conclusion. But while some of the marketing has compared it to the Danganronpa games, if you go in expecting a fast-paced, edge of your seat murder-fest you’ll be disappointed.
Instead, this is more of a psychological thriller, Love Island meets Lord of the Flies. You’ve been stranded on a relatively luxurious island with nine other strangers, promised a $500,000 reward if you survive. It’s part of a reality TV show you definitely didn’t ask to participate in.
Your fellow ‘contestants’ are an interesting bunch, ranging from an over the top Italian medallion man through to a tech-savvy non-binary punk. They’re all likeable enough, though there’s a tiny bit too much text speak in their spoken dialogue. Your own character, Harrison is British by way of Austin Powers, using the word ‘mate’ a little too much.
Things start off well enough, with the strandees all gelling as a team. But then two hosts attempt to turn you against each other. Yes, there’s a lot of talking, this being a visual novel but Inescapable features some delightfully wicked mechanics that test your own character.
For example, a few days in you unlock an app (your phone only works on the island) where you can unlock ‘dirt’ or ‘gossip’ on your fellow contestants. But.. do you do it?
I swore I was going to take the high ground but I was unable to resist the temptation. After all, I was the only one with the app, right? The hosts promised as much.
So I went about my business. Between entering fishing contests and solving Wordles, I’d tried to subtly quiz the contestants about their secret. But Sasha, the island’s NB contestant, called me out right away, cutting through my nonsense.
A wave of fear hit me. At that moment, I was more unsettled than I’d ever been playing Danganronpa. How did she know? Granted Harrison isn’t particularly subtle, but what ‘privileges’ had the hosts granted her?
And that, for me, is Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue’s real draw, the sense of paranoia that grows as you progress through the game. No-one grabs a big carving knife the moment they wake up. They’re admirably insistent that things won’t fall apart. But you know there’s going to be a moment when ‘no rules’ really sinks in.
That leads to the game’s other big driving factor, the gleeful anticipation you feel as you watch the cracks start to appear. Is that argument going to be forgotten or will it bubble to the surface later, leading to a violent conclusion? And is it in your own interest to help foster that animosity?
Between the daft dialogue and the ‘who’ll be the first to snap’ atmosphere, Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue absolutely kept my attention. However, you will need to be seriously, seriously patient.
Inescapable echoes Danganronpa’s visual style and it shares its general premise of larger-than-life characters being locked up together. But it lacks its pace and not everyone will appreciate that. It wasn’t until the end of the first month that the game threw in a shocking event.
If you can handle there not being a death every week (the game ticks along day by day), chances are you’ll enjoy Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue. It’s the very definition of a slow burner but it’s hooked me enough that I’m absolutely going to stick with. Will Harrison be standing atop a mountain of corpses as the credits roll? I don’t know but I’m looking forward to finding out.
Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue is avaialble now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.