Prison Architect, a game I spent quite a lot of time on in its early stages, is a Prison CEO/management simulator. Developed by Introversion Software this game gives you a plot of land, some money and staff to start off your own prison complex, from small personally designed cells to a huge but compact pig cell block. All you need to worry about is income and the behaviours of your inmates, making sure to stay out of the red as well as stopping riots before they happen.
With the final release of the game a campaign mode has finally been added into the game, expanding on the single chapter from the Alpha version.
Starting off you will be training under the current CEO of the prisons you visit, with your first task to create an execution chamber, setting up the power grid to supply it and watch a convict put to death. From there you are given 4-5 different chapters to play through, making more cells for already functioning prisons, sorting out a Riot, fire and hostage situation, reforming prisoners with teaching and work, then finally ending it with a small free-mode.
The story follows a few notable characters, first of all is a slight rip-off/twist on the Godfather and mafia family with internal turmoil inside of the prison. A convict who is experiencing heavy mental trauma due to how they are treated and being inside prison, connected prisoners uncovering the secret behind the old CEO and his eventual kidnap.
The story is well crafted and believable, though it is cut quite short for some. Development feels influenced by your actions and how you treat your prisoners, improving the immersion immensely. However after the 5 short chapters are completed the only thing left to do is go into free-mode. I kind of wished there was a longer part to the story or some more sub missions to do.
The story will take around 5 hours or more depending on how many side objectives you want to complete. It is very tutorial-like due to teaching you how to build, how to stop riots and control units.
You take control of a piece of land, in the shoes of a CEO, to make a prison good enough to hold hundreds of inmates. From minimum to maximum security you must make sure all inmates are fed, kept safe and more importantly bring in enough money for you to continue working as CEO. Starting off with $30,000 you will set up holding cells, personal cells, canteens and kitchens as well as offices for your employees.
From a top down 2D perspective you will be able to select a material to build then click and hold on the map to drag out a wall, design or rapidly place down objects. You can then select rooms and design how they look, though most require 4 walls and a door to function. Setting up delivery, storage, export and the like are necessary to keep your items clean and ready to ship in and out of your prison.
Security comes in the form of Guard Personnel, CCTV camera placements, guard patrols with weapons and Tasers, metal detectors and door servos for a fully automated prison complex. With more security your prisoners will become supressed, meaning they won’t try to pull as many pranks, murders or riots with all this force beating down on them. If someone gets into trouble you can create solitary cells with no light or luxuries to lock them up in to punish them.
Besides keeping the prisoners and keeping control you can also create workshops, classrooms and chapels to allow your prisoners to learn new skills, create license plates to sell or even be led by a priest to find them inner peace. All of these extra buildings and services add into your Prisoners Behaviours, keeping them mellow and happy whilst in prison, all the while feeding you money from the government and the license plates you sell.
Overall thoughts and feelings
Prison Architect is a game you will lose yourself in, similarly to other village creation and management games like Rim World. Waiting for money to come in, punishing offending prisoners, creating buildings to suit their needs, looking at intelligence reports to get rid of supply of drugs and weapons, placing guards at crucial fight points, assignment prisoners to work and clean. There are so many little details for you to control and look at, I have found myself up till the early AM’s of the day as I am optimising my prison.
While the final release of the game doesn’t feel as if it’s added much from the Alpha version it is still a solid game to pick up and play. The campaign eases you into the game without much danger against you, allowing new players to learn the game through an interactive story. More rooms, services and events have been added to the game, lengthening the time you will spend on allowing your prisoners very amenity possible.
Prison Architect gets a 4/5, it’s a fun game that can contain countless hours of gameplay depending on the type of gamer you are. With so much thought put into the game there is always something new to find, either by researching new tactics in the development screen or finding items that didn’t show up in the build menu. With the addition of Escape mode you can also take on a roll of a prisoner who wants to escape your prison or a random prison from the workshop. I can highly suggest this game to simulator fans.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.