Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘Prison Architect’

Whilst the rest of the niche market for management sims are getting all bunched up about Cities Skyline I find myself back in the time sink that is my favourite management sim: Prison Architect. I’ve spoken about this one before, but every couple of months I head back into the game to find dozens of new features have been added and I have to relearn it from the start. When I first joined the Prison Architect community there was little to do but build cells and other basic facilities while prisoners pour in. Eventually you get bored and fire all the cooks until hunger turns the entire complex into a dystopian Battle Royale survival match. 

I’m not the only one who does that, right?


The nature of the game has changed somewhat. You’re no longer building a convict storage facility but given motivational rewards for getting prisoners paroled early. Many prisoners are not in a position to earn their parole and can be coached through to that point through running programs such as drug rehab, AA, foundation school courses, workshop safety courses and psychology sessions. This requires plenty of forethought and planning, while deciding what will be your priority. Some grants will allow you to focus your efforts on education or rooming to earn a cash bonus to expand your grounds.

Not that the game is all about second chances…there’s the day to day running of the prison. Everyone must be fed, kept secure and kept safe. When the rules are broken and contraband is found or a fight breaks out prisoners face lockdown or a stint in solitary. Prisoners in solitary can be recruited as confidential informants you can supply information on escape tunnels and hidden items around the prison. Using the CI’s put them at risk of getting a shanking though, so you’re constantly on your toes.

prison architect

Many problems can be solved by keeping the population happy with good facilities, family visits, treatment and the like. On the other hand you’ll be upgrading your guards through training to carry stun guns and bring in sniffer dogs to keep things in line. There’s an endless list of jobs to be done, which is why it’s easy to lose time playing.

If you haven’t checked this game out yet, head to Steam or their homepage to donate and keep the ball rolling because it’s getting better and better.