Regular readers won’t be shocked to see another simulation game making it’s way to this site. Prison Architect has a habit of dragging me back to it by simple association … whenever I watch something on TV based around a prison (Orange Is The New Black, for example) I suddenly get the strongest urge to hop back in and start making my own prison!
There’s just something about designing layouts, considering the efficiency ad functionality of the various sections as you build them. Perhaps I missed my true calling?
When I first bought this game, it was quite simple and bare-bones. Over time, continuous updates have built upon the excellent foundation that the original base game provided. The premise of Prison Architect as you can probably guess is to build and manage your own prison from scratch. There are the usual challenges that you might expect, such as balancing a budget, having the right amount of staffing, that sort of thing. But being a prison game, there are lots of extra things for you to consider.
Your prisoners will have to be looked after, and also watched closely – a prison riot is but one unfortunate incident away! Will you decide to be a cruel warden? Or will you create educational programs and work opportunities? Will you let the prisoners do their thing or will you crack down and confiscate all contriband?
The game is so well looked after by the creators, it is crazy to think of just how many differences there are between the original release and the game as it is today. Besides the many new rooms, items, and mechanics, my favourite of the new additions has to be escape mode. A mode which adds an entirely new layer of challenge and enjoyment to an already enjoyable game.
Escape Mode allows you to jump into the prison as a fresh-faced convict, straight off the bus. As a prisoner, your job is ultimately to escape. Of course, such a feat doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time, patience and planning. There are a number of different ways for you to consider. Maybe you prefer to stealthily gather the items you need and hide them in safe places where you can collect them later to make your grand escape. Or perhaps you’ll form a gang and overthrow the prison, destroying everything in your path, burning the prison down as you walk out towards your freedom.
It gets even better – you can access the Steam workshop to load up prisons made by other players and try to escape from them. I can tell you, there are some REAL challenges to be found on there! I’m not entirely sure if it is possible to load the prisons of other players on the console version, but I certainly hope it is available, because it really does raise the bar just that extra little bit.
Overall, it just feels like Prison Architect has an extra layer of challenge compared to most other simulation games, seeing as it literally could all go wrong in an instant. You will have to keep your wits about you and ensure that you have a good regime in place otherwise you will find yourself subjected to prison riots, arson, assaults, escape attempts, and even murder. They are criminals after all!
It’s a huge thumbs up from me, it really is one of the best simulation games out there. The minimalist style is charming, the hidden humour is satisfying, and the gameplay is just excellent.
- Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Release Date: 06/10/2015 (PC), 28/06/2016 (PS4, Xbox One), 20/08/2018 (Nintendo Switch)
- Genre: Simulation