First Impressions – Prison Architect

by on June 21, 2016
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Prison Architect is a Kickstarter success story on the PC.  Double Eleven is working on bringing the popular game to consoles on June 28th.  I had the chance to sit with Josh Garrity and see how Prison Architect plays on the console.

For those unfamiliar with the game, Prison Architect is a top down simulation/construction game that lets you be the warden of your own prison.  Being a warden is not an easy task.  Not only do you have budgets to worry about, but you also have prison safety and prisoner happiness to worry about.  You may think to yourself “why do I care if my prisoner’s are happy?”  Happiness plays a big role in the game.  The way you set up your cells and the buildings will play a role in how successful your prison will be.  Even your choice of warden will play a key roll.  Warden’s work like modifiers in the game.  For example, Josh showed me a warden named Rick Berish, MD, who experiments on prisoners.  Each warden can modify how the prison runs and how the prisoners act.

Josh showed me a couple variations on how you can play the game.  First, you can choose how the budget works in your prison.  If you are a new player, you may want an unlimited budget.  If you want a challenge, you may want to start with $200,000 and get creative with your staff and construction.  There are ways to make money, like building shops for prisoners to work and sell wares.  It takes a couple easy button pushes to set your building area, then your construction crew takes care of the rest.  It may take time to build, and crews will need to clear out logs and other trash from construction.  Buildings don’t run on their own.  You will need to build electric lines to power your buildings.  Building things can take time, but you can speed it up if you need to.

In the playthrough, Josh showed me some premade levels that players will have access to.  One was a vast, open land next to a lake called the Lap of Luxury.  Each cell was build like a 2 bedroom apartment with pool tables, TV, and other amenities.  This was a big contrast to the second prison, the Rock.  The Rock is a premade level that looks exactly like Alcatraz.  While in the Rock, I saw a prison riot in the mess hall that caused a lot of deaths and injuries.  Josh had to send the riot squad to disperse and send prisoners back to their cells.  He also had to call in doctors to treat the wounded.  He then created more guards and set routes for them to walk.  You can do this with prisoners by created regimes for them to follow.  Again, you have full control of all of these aspects.  And keep in mind, there is a training mode available for to teach you about running a prison.  While in training mode, you look closely at several prisoners.  Josh said he wanted to give the prisoners a morally ambiguous story for you to follow.  Perhaps you will treat the prisoners better if you care about them.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this game!  I am not a PC gamer, so I love that it is coming to consoles.  Make sure you check out Prison Architect for Xbox and Playstation on June 28th.  You can also pick it up on PC.  Big thanks to Josh Garrity for taking the time to show me the console version!

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