Escape from Durgesh Prison: Far Cry 4 DLC – Review



Escape from Durgesh Prison is a truly bizarre piece of DLC. A heady mix of roguelike mechanics and linear specificity creates an uneasy tension that is difficult to overcome throughout the experience. With some easy to spot gameplay tweaks, this could have been a legendary add-on – as it stands, however, Escape from Durgesh Prison is simply unremarkable.


Escape from Durgesh Prison is launched as an entirely different menu option, completely separate from the trials and tribulations your version of Ajay has already experienced. When launched, Ajay is woken up by Pagan Min’s voice on the top of a radio tower, admonishing how easy his escape from Durgesh Prison was in the main story. To punish Ajay, Pagan has left him abandoned at the top of a bell tower with no items and a rescue chopper that will be destroyed in 30 minutes. Ajay has to make to the extraction point within the time limit, but beware! There is an angry force of Yuma’s soldiers on their way to destroy the helicopter. To give Ajay a fighting chance, Pagan has populated the area with a number of challenges and collectibles that will give Ajay more time, more weapons and a better shot at overcoming the odds. All he has to do is survive.


The core design of Escape from Durgesh Prison is interesting.
The core design of Escape from Durgesh Prison is interesting.


At its heart, the core concept is pretty cool. Being forced to accomplish a number of objectives in whatever order you choose within half an hour adds an interesting new wrinkle to the gameplay. If Ajay dies in the course of action, all but his consistent leveling and skill tree unlocks are reset. This combo of roguelike and RPG is a relatively unheard of concoction and could be well worth exploring: however, there are two fatal flaws that the game fails to address.


Firstly, there is no randomness to the content: the same missions and collectibles will always be in the same locations. By making the content randomly seeded in most other roguelikes, players are both forced to prepare for any outcome and able to experience a larger slice of interesting design. Without that randomness, you are going to be doing the same thing, time after time after frustrating, boring time. It goes from interesting to repetitive to hateful in the space of four or five retries.


Secondly, it is very, very easy to die in Far Cry 4 – especially when you have no guns, or body armor, or special abilities, or health, or stealth bonuses – just like how you start Escape from Durgesh Prison. It leads to a situation where Ajay feels woefully underpowered and the player is forced to run away until they level up and can attack the content again. This wouldn’t be a massive problem if upon death you started in a new area each time, but without the random element of roguelikes, you’re going to be killed by the same group of hunters on the right side of the tower over and over again.


The area map is pretty huge, but it's comprised of elements you've already explored in the full game.
The area map is pretty huge, but it’s comprised of elements you’ve already explored in the full game.


The final escape sequence is pretty exhilarating if pulled off correctly, but it felt laborious instead of exciting to work my way up to it. I can say easily that were it not for the review process, I would likely not have ever finished this piece of DLC due to my frustrations with its core design. If you are the type of player that can overlook this, then I can recommend this to you heartily: with an interesting mix of roguelike and first person shooter mechanics, Escape from Durgesh Prison is a step in the right direction towards something completely unique. Ultimately, my patience wore too thin to warrant completion.
Rating: 4/10