Prison Architect

Prison Architect

At its core, Prison Architect is exactly like a city management sim zoomed in specifically on the law enforcement aspect. Your population has a series of needs, and you have to make purchases and constructions to fulfill those needs while balancing a budget. It’s remarkable how different that gameplay feels when it’s put in a new context, however. I’ve never had to prevent escapes or navigate gang wars while playing SimCity. Thus, if you’re a fan of simulation titles, Prison Architect is likely to become a whole new addiction for you. If, like me, you get turned off by the lack of direction in most simulation titles, it will probably grab your interest for a little while before decisively losing it when it becomes clear that you’ll just be maintaining the same patterns indefinitely. Technically, there’s a campaign (with a surprisingly even-handed portrayal of the ethics of prison management), but it’s so underbaked that it’s interchangeably referred to as a tutorial by the community.

The game is committed to the realism of its simulation in almost all aspects, and whether or not that’s a good thing will depend entirely on the player. Given this, I find it strange that players are in control of how many prisoners they take in at all times, as it drains both realism and challenge from the gameplay. It’s a very thorough and organic simulation everywhere else, to the point where it could actually work as an educational tool demonstrating the difficulties of prison overcrowding and rehabilitation. It’s solid from a technical perspective, too. The interface is effective (minus some quirks regarding construction), and the art style provides a unique identity that most developers probably would have passed on in favour of an obvious realistic style.

6.5/10
6.5/10

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