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Prison Architect (PS4) Review

 
PrisonArchitectPS4
PrisonArchitectPS4
PrisonArchitectPS4

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer: ,
 
Final Score
8.0
8.0/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We Liked?


  • Simple to pick up, but with a lot of depth
  • Crisp, clean graphical style
  • Campaign mode had interesting characters and helps to introduce you to the games systems
  • Not So Much?


  • Controls are somewhat clunky
  • Navigating the UI can be laborious at times


  • Final Fiendish Findings?

    Double Eleven and Introversion have done a fine job of porting Prison Architect to consoles. Once you get into it, it’s possible to sink a ridiculous number of hours into the game. The different personalities of the inmates you can get means that no two games will be exactly the same, and there’s plenty of room to experiment with different options. The controls and the UI take a bit of getting used to, but if you haven’t experienced this game yet, then now would be a good time to do so.

    0
    Posted June 29, 2016 by

     
    Final Fiendish Findings?
     
     
    Y

    ou can’t move your metaphorical arms in Steam these days without bumping into a whole host of Early Access games.  Minecraft is probably the best known example of the kind of model of paying in advance and getting an early version of the game, with all updates provided for free.  Introversion also did this with Prison Architect, and after a long alpha period, the game finally became officially launched on PC late last year.  Now, with the help of Double Eleven, they’ve brought the game to consoles, and while there are a couple of niggles with the port, it’s still an excellent, highly involved strategy game.

    The main premise of Prison Architect is to build and manage your own incarceration facility.  Your job is to build the rooms that will make up your prison and take care of your inmates, or make their lives hell.  You have to make sure your prisoners can eat, get clean, have a place to sleep and have things to do with their time, be it spending time in the yard doing weights, labouring in the workshop, doing the laundry or learning new skills in the classroom.

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    There’s plenty of customisation options for the rooms you build in your prison.  Each room requires specific items in order to function, but you can choose to add other bits of furniture to improve things.  For example, a basic cell requires just a toilet and a bed.  But you can create different levels of cells for different inmates.  So you can have your basic cell and then you could have a more lavish cell with a desk and a TV.  It’s up to you.

    As well as building the actual prison, you have a bunch of management and administration at your disposal.  The “Bureaucracy” menu allows you to research and unlock new rooms and options for your prison, giving you more customisation and allowing to change policies in order to benefit or crack down on your inmates.  You’ll get things such as the ability to section off areas of the prison specifically for certain categories of prisoner, or set patrol routes for your guards.  You end up with a complex set of systems and there’s a lot of balance to keep your prison running smooth.

    Of course, it won’t run smoothly and you will hit problems.  It’s damn near impossible to keep all your prisoners happy all the time, and you will need to try and quickly deal with problems as they occur, be it people smuggling things into prison, or calming aggressive prisoners and sending them to solitary.  There’s always something for you to deal with, and how you deal with these problems will have an effect on how some of the other inmates will view you and your regime.

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    The game contains a 5 mission campaign mode, which essentially acts as an elongated tutorial, gradually introducing you to new systems and options in the game.  There’s a nice story thread going on between missions, and it really does humanise the prisoners and make you realise that there are some difficult decisions you’re going to have to make.  The main meat of the game is the ‘Prison Architect’ mode itself, where you’re basically given a plot of land and some workers and you just go ahead and build up your prison.  You will need to make use of grants, which give you specific things to do in order to receive some extra money, with a lot of them also giving you an advance.  These are also a good way of introducing you to various things in the game and guiding you a little bit.  If starting from scratch seems a bit overwhelming, you have an option to start with one of several pre-built prisons.  There’s also a “World of Wardens” mode where you can upload your own prisons online and download other players prisons to have a play around with.

    Prison Architect has a nice, simple graphic style that is clean and crisp, and every item you build in your prison is distinct and it’s obvious what every item is supposed to be.  The sounds consists of basically ambient noise from workmen building stuff, generators humming and prisoners making noise.  There’s no music to speak of, but the sounds really give your prison some atmosphere.

    While the game is great fun to play, there are some niggles I had with it.  I admit I’ve already put a lot of time into the PC version previously, and one thing I noticed is that the controls are a bit clunky and slow to respond at times.  Also, the UI can be a bit of a chore to navigate, with you having to scroll through bars of options for rooms and furniture to find what you want.  When you’re hovering your cursor over a room, you can select to filter to show just the furniture specific to that room, which is helpful.  But if you want to add some extras, you’ll have to turn the filter off and find them.  You will quickly get used to this stuff, but it is a minor issue.

    FINAL THOUGHTS
    Double Eleven and Introversion have done a fine job of porting Prison Architect to consoles.  Once you get into it, it’s possible to sink a ridiculous number of hours into the game.  The different personalities of the inmates you can get means that no two games will be exactly the same, and there’s plenty of room to experiment with different options.  The controls and the UI take a bit of getting used to, but if you haven’t experienced this game yet, then now would be a good time to do so.

     

    The product under review was provided by the creator, manufacturer, publisher or their PR representative free of charge and without caveat. Please see our site review policy for more information.

    Mike Jones

     
    Mike first started writing about video games at the age of 10 when he wrote a Sonic Chaos review for his school newspaper, and hasn't looked back since. Favourite game genres include MMOs, racing games and puzzlers, but he'll try most things once.