Villordsutch reviews Prison Architect…
Prison Architect is a funny game. I’d say funny little game, but it isn’t that. I first encountered it around three ago at my first PLAY Expo and I can honestly say, after walking around the stand a few times rather confused, I thought this was an educational game, which involved you getting to grips with crime & punishment and also understanding resource management. I feel like a bit of a fool now thinking back.
Yes you deal with crime & punishment and yes you get to grips with resource management. You could in a way say that Prison Architect is an educational game, but this will be completely by proxy. If you’ve managed to capture any of the numerous, occasionally NSFW, Alpha build videos you’ve seen this game in action. However, if this review is the first you’ve seen of it, to be rather glib here, you have a Prison building simulator for which you build it from the foundations up. Starting with one of six available Wardens, you first place the walls, beds, toilets and doors, then you move to the electricity and plumbing; finally you accept the gangs of ner’do’wells. You’ve already made, perhaps, the greatest prison in history and now comes the criminals to show you were you’ve failed or perhaps not. You can rule your roost with a softly-softly approach or with the iron-fist. You can make the rooms 2×4 or a luxury pad, you can give the cons exercise and yard duties nearly all day or keep them isolated for nearly twenty-four hours. Your choice, you make the money to make your Prison profitable, heck if you wanted to you could even include the added bonus of an Execution Wing, to generate more cash for getting blood on your hands.My own Prison – Badly in need of cash, yet my Prisoners are keeping fit.
Not everything is plain sailing mind you, for if you start pushing the prisoners to far one way they could snap back and riot, or if you come across as too soft they may start to take advantage and your guards won’t like that; you need to balance this well. On top of all this you have prisoner safety to maintain, as not every one of them likes direct eye contact and then occasionally a good old-fashioned shanking may occur if you’re not careful.
Dark humour runs well throughout this game, it has to, you’re building a prison where you can execute people! Prison Architect is extremely easy to pick up even if you’re new to this format of game, as there’s an introductory level which will walk you through the basics of the game for around thirty minutes, without making you feel patronised. The graphics are simple, having a rather pleasant Fisher-Price Weeble look to them, which makes it even more bizarre when a fight breaks out, or you take on the role of a prisoner and you attempt to batter a workman to death – as you disable the power generator – in the new Escape Mode, testing out your own prison or one from Steam. The game sings of homebrewed games of the 1990’s, this is far from being a bad thing, this is a splendid thing for it brings to the top the cream of imagination and creativity that has yet to sour in the sun of major games development.My own Prison – Developing a new area and the workmen are busy.
If you like your Theme “insert whatever floats your boat” Simulator/Coaster/Tycoon/Keeper games from EA or the past classics of Bullfrog, even the greats of Peter Molyneux, then you’re on to a sure winner with Prison Architect. Perhaps, however, you love your current The Sim’s games now, but you’re one of those malevolent Gods that builds a wall around the pools once they enter it, then Prison Architect has the vein of humour and tools for you.
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.