Escaping from any prison can be an involved task. This tutorial aims to teach players basic knowledge that will help in preparing for escapes from any prison. For specific walkthroughs on how to escape individual prisons, please see the article for the respective prison.
To survive in all prisons, you need many things, such as materials (Roll of Duct Tape, Sheet of Metal, etc) and tools such as keys, etc... You won't start with them, but there are many ways to obtain them. The main methods of obtaining items include searching desks, purchasing from Shops, completing favours and looting knocked-out characters.
You can fight people to obtain many spare items: To attack, use Space then click on the target (Desktop TE1) or hit RT (Consoles). If on desktop of TE1, don't forget to press Space bar again after you've knocked out the target, to change back from attack mode to normal mode. However, you should attack with a weapon, for example a Broom. Do note that non-contraband weapons are generally weak, and crafting stronger weapons requires intellect and materials. Also, train up your Stats to increase capability. Strength training will raise your health (TE1 only) and attack damage. Speed or fitness training increases attack rate.
To rob an inmate, just walk into someone else's cell and interact with their desk, and after a short time an inventory window will open. Be careful though, Guards don't like to see you in someone else's cell. Being spotted in another cell increases Heat by 15, while being seen taking items from a desk immediately raises it to 100. Also, if you try to open someone else's desk in front of that person (or while they are sleeping in their room), he will attack you. Wearing a Guard Outfit allows free searching of desks.
Using these methods, you must gather as much stuff as you can before you try to escape. For most escapes, you should try to gather shovels, pickaxes, cutters and Plastic Keys. These will grant you access to locked doors and allow you to tunnel, cut or chip.
Get Help (TE1 only)
Friends are very important in the game.
To make friends, you can click on an inmate to talk to them, give them items, or complete favours for them. This will raise their Opinion of you. To check opinion, interact with a character and find/hover over the bar labelled OPN. Try to get this above 80, and then you can use them to your benefit. Pressing
Q (Desktop) on him after you have reached 80+ opinion will recruit him. When you do this, he will attack whoever you attack and defend you, but will cause his opinion level to go down each time you attack someone with him. Press
Q on him again to dismiss your friend.
You will often not be able to find the supplies you need. Your fellow inmates will often have a variety of supplies for sale. When someone has something to sell, a small yellow bag (coin in TE2) appears over their head, and you can interact with them to open the menu. Select the third tab on the right to open the shop. Just select the item you want to purchase, but you will have to pay the labelled price in money. As said before, someone who likes you very much will sell you things at a lower price, but someone who does not like you will sell you things at a higher price. In TE2, prices are static, but anyone with 50 or less opinion will not sell items to you.
So, it is a very important tactic to hide your illegal/contraband items. The main place to hide your items is in your desk, but any contraband stored there will be found and confiscated by guards if you are called for a shakedown. In TE2, you will have a hidden compartment in your desk, with 6 slots available, where no guard will find your items. If a dog is trying to find a stolen key or keycard, they will be able to take it from this compartment. You can hide stuff in the vents (by cutting/unscrewing the vent cover), between two walls (chip the wall) or under the ground (dig a hole).
You will also have to hide the entrance to your stash, because if guards find it they will cover it and the Warden will send you to Solitary.
You could use a Plastic Knife from the kitchen. However, these break easily and you can only hold so many at a time.
Because of this, you should get a File from inmates that sell them. If those aren't enough, then craft the Flimsy Cutters. They need 2 files and a Roll of Duct Tape, as well as 40 intellect. Later, you can upgrade them with more files, duct tape and INT, so don't worry if they aren't very durable. (Cutting Floss is another option, but weaker than cutters and generally not useful.)
Cutters will get you very far and give you access to stashes inside the vents (TE1 only), and sometimes more by using ladders nearby that lead to the roof. If in vents, watch for Slats, these also must be cut or unscrewed to pass through.
Also, watch out for Electric Fences, often found around the perimeters of harder prisons. Attempting to cut them (and simply touching them in TE2) will shock you and deal 10 points of damage (20 in TE2) unless you have disabled the Generator. If cutting fences outdoors, be sure to take the following precautions: Put on a Guard Outfit, craftable or looted from guards. Also make a Bed Dummy and put it in your bed. These two measures will allow you to sneak around at night, which is mandatory for outdoor cutting (if you do it during the day, tower guards will see you and throw you in solitary/start a lockdown.)
To start, you can try to dig with a Plastic Spoon but they are very slow and have very little durability, making them very inefficient.
There are better options. An easily obtainable option is the Trowel, which you can find in the inventory of inmates, as well as from the Gardening/Farming job. Note that in TE2, it is very weak and not worth using. Most digging is rather heavy-duty. To dig longer distances, you can create a Flimsy Shovel and dig faster. And, like the cutters, you can upgrade this with a Sheet of Metal and more duct tape. This creates stronger versions, the best of which can be combined with Sturdy Pickaxe and duct tape to make a Multitool, a high-durability and high-efficiency tool that will dig or chip many tiles. Do note that digging a long tunnel often takes many Sturdy Shovels, which can take a long time to obtain.
Another necessity for digging is the Timber Brace. Without these placed every two tiles to support the tunnel, you will not be able to dig farther. The high amount of resources required to dig and support a tunnel means that digging escapes can be some of the most tedious, but are also more clandestine than other options.
But you can easily get caught digging and end up in solitary, which means caution must be taken. Dirt (Soil in TE2) is obtained by digging. Each tile dug gives one Dirt/Soil, meaning that you cannot completely dig another tile when your inventory is full. It is important that you do not act carelessly with these items. While there are many ways to destroy them, you must be sure to get rid of them promptly. If a guard finds dirt dropped on the floor, you will go to solitary. If a guard in TE2 finds Soil on the floor and reports it to the control room, the Security Level will increase substantially. The same goes for Vent Covers or Wall Blocks on the floor, as they are essentially evidence of prison damage. To destroy dirt or soil, flush it down a toilet, or place it in another container, such as a Desk (but not an inmate or guard desk, only desks that guards won't search), or knocked-out inmate's inventory.
If soil is given as a gift to an inmate, their opinion will decrease by 50. Soil cannot be given to guards: attempting to do so will result in your character saying "That would be foolish of me!"
If you've dug a tunnel but no longer need it/are still working on it, hide it by placing a Desk on top (if accessible). If no desks are available, use Soil (TE2) to fill in a portion of the tile's durability.
Chipping through walls is less useful for escaping than digging, but can be used in certain unique escapes or to access certain areas.
Often, chipping through a wall does not require breaking many tiles. This is where the Crowbar and (TE2 only) Iron Bar are useful. These tools can chip exactly one tile and are not hard to obtain, making them a staple in fast breakouts or quick access operations. If you've a long way to chip (or dig) a pickaxe is the standard option. The Flimsy Pickaxe is made with a Tool Handle, Roll of Duct Tape and Crowbar, and will chip very weakly. However, it can be upgraded with more duct tape, timber and INT, allowing you to create stronger tools. Just like the shovels, the best pickaxe can be combined with a Sturdy Shovel and more duct tape to make a Multitool, the most powerful digging/chipping tool.
If you've chipped a wall to access an area and need to hide the entrance, make a Poster or Fake Wall Block. The Wall Block obtained from chipping a wall tile can also be replaced, but cannot be easily removed and will need more chipping to get through again. Note that a guard with low opinion of you will tear down posters you place, so watch out.
Make sure you make the most out of your time. Find patterns in your daily activities and find out when you have some free time to dig/chip/cut into areas. It might also be useful to explore guard patrol patterns to find out where it is safe to dig without being caught.
Often in a prison layout, you will see contraband detectors (often found separating two halves of a prison or guarding certain rooms). These will detect illegal/contraband items and increase your Heat dramatically. To avoid these, find a way to dodge them by digging under or creating a fake wall entrance. You can also use a Contraband Pouch, but these have a limited durability and are hard to replace. Consider upgrading to a Durable Contraband Pouch for more durability, or finding a way to disable the generator for temporary protection.
This can result in losing contraband items - most of which are essential to escaping.
Taking over the prison (TE1 only)
Stealth is costly though, and leads to paranoia, resulting in poor decisions. This next method of escaping is scarcely known, and is more straightforward yet much harder to perform.
Taking over the prison requires you to KO at least 80% of the prison's guards at any time except lights out and keep them tied up by using a Roll of Duct Tape or Length of Rope (one for each guard, so you'll need to use the aforementioned means to hide a stash). If you successfully take down enough of the guards, you will receive a letter from the Warden saying that you've made your point, and that he's unlocked the front gate. From there, it's a matter of walking. However, you must be holding a knocked-out character, or you will be sniped. This is the only time the player can open a door that requires the white key, which only the Warden has.