Prison escapes get rarer every year as security and technology constantly keep improving. These days, any super-max penitentiary is practically impossible to break out of by any typical human being. Luckily for you, in Prison Run and Gun, you are no mere mortal. With heart-pumping tunes, superhuman jumping abilities, and a knack for leaving an array of explosions in your wake, escaping prison is finally a feasible task. Realistically though, you’d have to be the most wanted criminal in the world to get placed in the Prison Run and Gun jail. It’s filled with deadly traps and unforgiving obstacles. Someone wants you stopped so badly, and they even sends suicide bombers your way.
The first thing I noticed with Prison Run and Gun are the strange controls. They’re set for a controller by default, so the tutorial completely ignores the presence of your keyboard and begins instruction with a controller in mind. Also, the default keyboard version of the controls are a bit wonky so you’ll have to head into the settings menu and remap the keys to your liking. I used the standard WASD and spacebar for my game’s navigation. Other than this slight malfunction, Prison Run and Gun is pretty self-explanatory. The objective of every level is to reach the exit in a typical platformer style. New enemies and obstacles are gradually introduced, and levels quickly increase in complexity. The difficulty really ramps up at just level two with multiple turrets, flaming barrels, saw blades, and explosives to deal with. Contrastingly, level one only contains three mines and a few jumps. I think the rapid difficulty increase is due to the fact that Prison Run and Gun only offers thirty levels, and needs to fit all of its content in a tight package.
Weapons are plentiful, but man-to-man combat is uncommon. Usually, guns are used to set off explosives that trigger patterns which open up escape routes. You run and you gun, hence the game’s title, yet everything is strategic. Shredding too many wooden crates might ruin your chances of reaching a high ledge. Killing an enemy holding a bomb too early might prevent him from busting open a locked door. Holding a weapon also slows you down, so deciding when to leave your precious firearm behind is pivotal. Sometimes throwing a weapon ahead of an obstacle and reclaiming it after traveling an alternate route is also required. Every level initially appears to be an effortless jump-fest, but ends up being a complex puzzle.
A few power-ups are available as a helmet and a suit. These pieces of equipment let you break certain obstacles that are located above or below you. Getting hit by an enemy will cause you to lose the power-up, thereby preventing a successful escape. Level restarts will be plentiful and expect certain stages to take over 50 tries to complete. Fortunately, the game’s soundtrack is enjoyable and upbeat. Also, the music changes every couple levels, keeping things from becoming stale and monotonous. Many platformers blare looping music which can get extremely annoying. Prison Run and Gun makes the smart move by keeping things fresh, both melodically and visually, in a game that can easily become repetitive.
Each stage has a single collectible key to grab as a sort of an achievement. In order to keep the key once it is obtained, you must successfully reach the level’s exit. I found myself ignoring the keys on my first playthrough and going back to get them later on. Usually they’re placed in very hard to reach locations, presenting a new challenge and more than doubling total replayability. I still found myself pretty unmotivated to go back for the keys, however. Beating a level without the extra task was satisfying enough for me, but the added depth is very welcome.
It’s best to take your time in Prison Run and Gun instead of trying to rush through it. The wild soundtrack and general feel for the game is misleading, since trial and error is unavoidable. Within each stage, everything is placed where it’s found for a reason and has a great impact on your success or failure. Even enemies running right at your face serve a purpose. Prison Run and Gun’s layered depth shows how much thought was put into each and every map layout. Although there is absolutely no story, I enjoyed solving the thirty puzzles being presented to me. It just goes to show how a putting a ton of hard work and thought into a small, straightforward game can make it really great.
A review code of Prison Run and Gun was provided by Quanticized Bit.