I love management sims. I even played Sims back in the day. I always loved the ones with a bit of humor to them so it was so I played games like Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper a little bit more. I could smack an imp all day when I was younger. Bullfrog is long gone but Introversion is on a mission to recapture that glory with Prison Architect, and I am rooting for them all the way.
I bought this game, which is still in Alpha BTW, on a steam sale a few days ago. I have seen it around a couple of times and curiosity got the better of me. See I am not big on buying games in early access but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to try it out. I then proceeded to play it for fourteen hours. Fourteen hours that flew by way too fast.
Like I said, the game is currently only in its Alpha state which basically means it isn’t complete yet. Alpha 22 to be exact which I have know idea whether it is impressive or not. In its current state the game gives you the power to be in control of creating and running prison. You get a piece of land, eight workers and some capital and you are off. First piece if business is to create a holding cell, hire some guards and create an office for your warden. Getting a warden opens up some research options in your bureaucracy menu. You also get to build cells, kitchens, showers and all sorts of prison goodies to keep your customers happy. The game supplies you with three type of prisoners split up in three groups, minimum, medium, and maximum security. Each group comes with grants which helps pay with for bills. Min sec bringing in less money than max sec, however with each group comes more trouble.
The game also sports some simple, almost South Park (but not really), type graphics. In its current state the game doesn’t really have any aim. It is basically an open sandbox which allows you to try out the mechanics with your only goal being more money. There are grants and contracts that bring in more money to prison over and above the prisoners themselves. But these aren’t a lot though. Later releases will probably see more storied missions. For example, your tutorial mission starts with you being tasked with creating a electric chair fit for a king. Which progresses in a comic book style fashion telling the story of your prisoner. But then you don’t see this again outside of the tutorial, nor does an electric chair do anything again.
I can’t really wait to for more releases to come for Prison Architect. Currently a new update is released once a month. I am scared though with this, as I am with all early access games, that I will be bored of it by the time it is finished. Time will tell.
Developer: IntroVersion Software
Played on: Windows PC
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux