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The 9 best jailbreaks in PC games

Behind bars

The justice system is stupid. You can go to jail for setting a plant on fire and putting it in your mouth. Shut up, the police. Be smart for once. Maybe people would stop trying to escape from prison if you did something sensible like, I don't know, cease being a militarised gang of dirtbag predators. Stop watching everyone through video cameras, you absolute creeps. What? Oh right, video games. Here's 9 of the best jailbreaks in PC games.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

A soldier named Johns and two prisoners in yellow jumpsuits stand in front of you in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

A first-person stealth spin-off that had absolutely no right to be so good. Playing as Dick Riddick, the see-in-the-dark hero of solid sci-fi schlock Pitch Black, you are thrown in the space slammer and must break out. First it's all cigs and shivs with your fellow inmates, then it's dark pits and maximum security. Vin Diesel's grim drawl is present and correct, as are some truly heinous action movie quips. "Let's play who's the better killer," our hero croaks as he crashes a spaceship into the window of the warden's office. A subtle getaway, very stealthy.

The Escapists 2

A top-down view of a snowy prison scene in The Escapists 2

Ah, disempower fantasy of wearing an orange jumpsuit and not wanting to go to bed when you're told. Yes, you could spend your days in this pixel-crunchy sim exercising and mopping up the floor like a good perp. Or you could batter a prison guard with said mop, steal his uniform, and walk around like a violent peacock. There are loads of tropes to fulfill. Shape pillows into a dummy that lies in your bed at night. Make a key mold by pressing a stolen key into some putty. Knock out the generators to turn off the contraband detectors. The possibilities are frankly alarming. Oh wait, that's the alarm.

Every Elder Scrolls game

A dark dungeon in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Who among us can say they have not been arrested for pickpocketing an entire loaf of bread from the folds of a posh lady's dress? Let he who is without sin cast the first invisibility spell. These are the arguments we must imagine are made in Elder Scrolls courtrooms, a place we never see, since we are always discarded sans trial into dank keeps for accidentally shouting at a jeweller. For Mara's sake, every game begins with a jailbreak. No wonder it becomes an everyday event to bust out of these prisons with the one lockpick you hide up your nose everytime this happens. Disparage the criminal actions of the chosen one if you must, but admit it, they have the tenacity of Sarah Connor breaking out of a maximum security psychiatric hospital with a paperclip.

Uncharted 4

Two men escape on a motorcycle as they're chased by an armoured car in Uncharted 4

"It's not on PC!" you yelp, thinking you've got him, you've finally got the list goblin, that idiot. Sit down, quell your buffoonery. Uncharted 4 is coming to PC this year, and with it some of the most entertaining Indiana Jonesing this side of a wet rockface. There is a jailbreak in here that has all the classic ingredients wrapped up in blockbuster animation and jaunty adventure story dialogue. Brawls, cons, stacked odds, a rooftop chase, a shooty finale. It's also good at setting up the principal antagonist as a selfish and unlikeable prick.

Prison Architect

A top down view of several jail cells in Prison Architect

Sometimes a prisoner tunnels under their toilet, out of the big, horrible penal institution you've built, and all you can do is chuckle softly like Ben Affleck at the end of Good Will Hunting. God speed, Dan Donelly. God Speed.

Metal Gear Solid

A pointy polygon woman holds a gun to a pointy, polygon Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid

You're put in a transparent cell at one point in the classic stealth-me-do, awaiting torture. But you have one thing the enemy does not. A single sachet of ketchup. Work it out. If it helps, the single guard stationed to watch over you is Johnny, a walking toilet joke in a balaclava, who would later become a full character in Metal Gear Solid 4, an example of video games' proud tradition of frog-marching throwaway NPCs into the plot and pretending they were always significant.

Grand Theft Auto Online

A man drives a shiny car away from police in GTA Online

There's a multi-stage heist you can perform with pals in GTA Online called The Prison Break. You've got to spring a bloke from the concrete clink of Los Santos and the finale involves splitting up to do the actual jailbreak. Two players will smuggle themselves into the lockup dressed as a warden and a prisoner, while two others will pilot a plane and a chopper, providing support and escape when everything inevitably goes pear-shaped. These heists are like six years old at this stage, but they remain the best thing about playing GTA with buds.

Half-Life 2

Combine shoot insect-like aliens in a prison in Half-Life 2

It's not a prison break in the usual sense but the barred confines of Nova Prospekt still has the feel of one. The chaos, the distraction, the pursuit, the sliding cages, the improvised violence. It's the jailbreak of an alternate universe. The antlions stand in for rowdy prisoners, creating a riot atmosphere by taking on the Combine soldiers, perfect warden substitutes given their introduction as baton-wielding thugs. Who needs plot and reasons to be in jail when brainstorming level designers can just say "why not?" and shunt the player through a tumultuous penitentiary anyway.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided - A Criminal Past

Jensen waits around the corner of an industrial prison in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Why did Adam Jensen go to cyborg jail?

He was smuggling arms.

One Off The List from… the best snow in games

Last time we stomped through the bitter cold to assess some of the best snow in PC games. But one instance of fluffy ice melted into disgusting slush at the slightest scrutiny. It's...


"Gwent has to go from this list," says 'Blankedy', respectfully revving up the snow plough. "I appreciate its inclusion, but it doesn't go crunch underfoot. It doesn't even lay before you in a white vista like a world covered in fondant. I can't sink my eyeball-teeth into it."

Eyeball-teeth. It's a real phenomenon, we all know what it means.

That's it then, but don't forget. One of the above jailbreaks doesn't deserve to be here. It's completely innocent. I leave it to you, my goblins, to decide which one shall get the pardon. Until next time: lights out.

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About the Author
Brendan Caldwell avatar

Brendan Caldwell

Former Features Editor

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.