Prison Architect Preview
If Dwarf Fortress met Theme Hospital and they had a child, it would have to be locked away. The game that would do it is called Prison Architect, and I am very excited to tell you that it does it’s job very well.
It has a cartoony look about it, and all the little people have circles for hands and no arms. A lot of them have fat semi-circles for bodies and no legs, much like the MSN icon of old. When the prisoners go for their communal shower you can see their bum crack…
Not everything is so silly in the game though, after all it is only bad men that go to jail. There are a few short interconnected stories that show the lives of some of the inmates and how they got to be incarcerated, while flashbacks that use the same graphics as the main part of the game show important events. These scenes are supported really effectively by polaroids that show comic book style drawings of what is going on. A man catches his wife cheating and shoots the lovers dead in his rage – you are the one responsible for his execution and are instructed to build an electric chair… this is business after all. Before he dies you are shown him repenting at a chapel. God may forgive him, but the law will not.
The premise of Prison Architect, as one might imagine, is you get to build and manage a prison complex, starting by building a secure facility with high walls and wire fencing. You will have to organise and improve your staff and inmates while still making a profit; for instance a Warden is expensive but gives you access to more advanced buildings that improve the kind of inmates you can accommodate, so more money can be made. The warden will need a nice office though and those new prisoners will need cells, but individual cells cost a lot to make. Putting them all in one big cell will be cheaper, but is it a good idea?
As SimCity and Dungeon Keeper before it, not everything will go as planned. Although I doubt Godzilla will stomp the prison to bits you do have utilities like power, water and rubbish disposal to deal with which, depending on how well you are prepared, can cause major problems.
Power outages and fires can devastate a prison and the people in it – I spent about 15 minutes putting out a fire with fat little firemen and had to rebuild the kitchen and canteen. This didn’t go down well with the prisoners who were hungry and angry. Fortunately I managed to fix it before anything bad happened – I did have to build a medical ward to take care of a burned prisoner though.
Sending guards on patrol routes and making sure there is enough room for all the prisoners is a fun challenge. Even though the game isn’t finished it feels really stable and fluid. I expect that the full game will be really popular, not only because of how awesome Introversion is as a company, but also because this is the only new game like it that I can think of. I’m very excited to see it complete.
“My Rezzed 2012 Game of The Show” -Josh