When Prison Architect first appeared on Xbox One’s game preview program we where a little concerned about how the PC classic in the making would carry to the next-gen systems
Firstly there was the control scheme, and also the interpretation of a sim/management game within the next-gen console hierarchy of AAA titles.
But once again it seems the game preview program is allowing developers to bring some amazing games to consoles with the input of gamers to help mould the future of the title and with Prison Architect now only a few weeks away from it’s true release, It’s all looking pretty awesome..
Ark survival, Elite dangerous and more recently Subnautica are a handful of the so far very successful list of titles available via the program and you’ll be pleased to know Prison Architect is up among the very best.
I’ve always been a fan of sim / management games, back to the original Theme Park, Sim City and Theme Hospital and later to the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise, It’s been a genre I’ve spent many hundreds of hours playing on PC, because when it’s done, it’s incredible.
The same could be said for previous PC to console ports, usually these rest on how well the control scheme is carried over and once again, when it’s done right, it’s incredible.
Prison Architect manages this by simplifying your selections into an easy to navigate system, whether you’re using an entire template or building your prison from scratch, there’s no problem in navigating to and placing the content you desire. Sure some will head straight into the console specific Prison Warden mode to take control of a pre-built prison while they get to grips with things, but even starting from fresh isn’t impossible thanks to a quick and accessible control scheme.
Your basic quest is to run a successful prison, keep the prisoners happy to avoid trouble, and life’s made a little easier, but annoy them and you’ll have prisoners starting riots or causing fights making your management a much tougher quest.
Audibly there’s not an awful lot to talk about, The game sounds good with various effects and ambiance, and while there’s a very discreet soundtrack it remains so much so that it’s barely noticeable at times, which works well to prevent distractions, but likewise can feel a little dissociated at times.
Graphically it’s a different story, things remain pretty simple, but to an incredibly effecting level, the familiar orange scrubs don the in-mates, but their simple features such as hair, size, facial hair and skin colour mean they’re nearly always easily identifiable with the risk of two looking the same impressively low.
Your prison, and it’s contents are easily marked where required by words overlaying the room, and while building those rooms, linking the electric and managing the inmates can feel a little daunting at first, clear, precise and somewhat fun and colourful graphics coupled with the impressive control scheme make the game as accessible as it proves to be.
Finally we should mention value,
Like any high quality sim game, it’s down to what you put into it, unlike sport and shooting games, we can’t expect 5 or 10 hours campaigns, because sim and management games are as open as your own enjoyment and satisfaction meaning you could easily lose a hundred hours or more on a single prison, and with the added challenges of the Warden mode there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for months.
Bottom Line :
Prison Architect might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but anyone who is a fan of sim, tycoon or management games should own this, there’s an incredibly accessible game which will provide hundreds of hours of entertainment.
There’s nothing majestic enough to convert first person shooter aficionados to sim mogul’s, but fans of the genre will appreciate the fantastic conversion of both quality and controls.