Prison Architect Preview (PC)
It’s hardly fair to review a game like Prison Architect simply because the game itself is still in Alpha but it feels like something that is so close to being complete, I’m not sure if that’s just good design or the fact that the game is so interesting.
It all starts off with a minimalistic amount of money. In order to build a proper sized prison, you are going to need to take a couple of cash grants which mean you need to build a couple of things required to make your prison more comfortable. Prisoners will arrive at your prison every 24 hours. You will get eight on average each day, so you need to make sure that you have adequate cells to hold them all. If you can’t build each prisoner a cell, you are going to need to put a holding cell in to keep a lot of them at the same time. The problem with holding cells is that there are no beds in there, so they can’t sleep. While doing this, your workers are going to need to pipe up everywhere to give everyone access to water as well as lay cabling for electricity. By the time you have about 30 prisoners, you should expect a few fights and outbreaks. You are going to need to place a Solitary Cell so that all the prisoners who misbehave can be punished because clearly prison isn’t enough. Money management then obviously becomes a pretty huge issue and chances are you will need to call in Riot Police and some Paramedics to keep things under control. I’ve had the unfortunate incident of all three of my guards being killed by rioters and most of the prisoners just escaping. It wasn’t fun.
Each prisoner is almost like a Sim, they have specific wants and needs but it’s completely beyond your control. A large part of that is reliant then on the AI design that the developers have put into the game. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s flawless, but it’s pretty close because you are given a timetable which you can tweak to adjust the specific times inside the prison. What I mean by this, is that if you were only able to feed 2 percent of your prison due to a riot breaking out, you are going to need to feed them to prevent another one happening soon, so you can change your timetable to get them all fed. Then at least, it’s one less thing to worry about when looking around your prison.
If you are interested in getting your hands on Prison Architect, they have their own crowd-funding project which is kind of like Kickstarter but not really. The game will cost you $30 (around R300) for the Base Pack which will give you instant access to the Alpha as well as a pre-order to the full game. You can see more about the game and pricing here.