Prison Architect is a game by Introversion Software, also well known for strategy game, Darwinia, about a person who created an entire species of beings inside his computer called darwinians, which are small green fellows made out of green squares, which you lead through various levels.

See the humorous trailer of Prison Architect here:

Prison Architect, as you might have already guessed, is about you being in charge of building a functional and often vast prison to hold many a villain and misfit. Unlike other simulators, Prison Architect goes rather in-depth about how you build your prison, for example, for you to build a prison block you will first need to build the foundation, the inside walls, the furniture and doors and hook up everything to your power generator and water pump.

This game in some ways is rather like Dwarf Fortress, and it will more often than not take a few attempts to get even a remotely good prison up and running. But unlike Dwarf Fortress, Prison Architect has a short tutorial at the beginning of the game when you first run it, which gives you a scenario to build a small, functioning execution chamber complete with an electric chair. The tutorial, however, doesn’t explain everything about what you have to do as a prison architect, so when you do start your own prison most of the building is logical guesswork.

Yes you have to build everything for the little social outcasts, such as showers, toilets, a yard to exercise, and a dining area. There are also lots of other things you can build as well, such as solitary confinement rooms for the people who think beating up fellow inmates is better than sleeping. You can also hire many different variants of staff, such as the accountant who can get you grants that allow you to get money for building new facilities (which are very useful at the start of the game). You also have to think of security, you can’t have convicts wondering off now can we? So you have to hire plenty of security guards to keep them in check, as well as metal detectors so that inmates can’t just walk around with a knife in their pockets ready to murder whoever they please.

I can’t help but feel slightly betrayed by the inmates in my prison because I build them everything they need, a common complete with TV, books and a pool table, and a huge yard to exercise in, and they repay me by dismantling toilets, breaking beds, starting riots, and getting all their blood everywhere on my prison floor so I have to hire janitors to clean it up.

In order to unlock most of the facilities, objects, and staff in the game you need to research it through bureaucracy with your prison warden, this gives you plenty of new things to play with, from a hospital ward to help heal your injured inmates and guards, to hiring riot guards to help deal with riots and violent inmates more effectively.

The graphics for the game are fairly simplistic, but work well for this type of game. You play from the top-down perspective and can zoom in to get close-up and see your prison, or zoom out to get a good view of the plan of your prison. The lighting effects are very good for a game in alpha stage and it adds that extra bit of atmosphere to the game, with shadows coming from the buildings you have built and from the individual characters themselves.

Keeping in mind that Prison Architect is currently in alpha, there is obviously a lot that needs to be improved, for example, when inmates go to bed they sometimes turn into doors for some strange reason. But again, keep in mind that this is still in alpha stage and there is still a lot of room for improvement.

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