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Videogame Review: "Prison Architect" (2015)

Updated on May 8, 2022
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.


Quick Info

Studio: Introversion Studio
Genre: Simulation
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Platform: PC, Mac OS X, Steam OS + Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360

What is "Prison Architect"?

Prison Architect is a simulation game where you build and maintain your own prison. You can create your prison any way you’d like; you just have to keep prisoners from killing each other, or escaping custody.

Neat prison designs you can make or download.
Neat prison designs you can make or download.

The Gameplay

You use your mouse to create the various buildings you’ll need for your prison. You can use all sorts of materials to build your buildings, you put objects you need into certain rooms in your buildings after you label your room correctly.

If you need to make a prison cell you have to make the building, then click the “Room” tab and pick “Cell” to make a cell for the inmate. What makes the game so convenient is that they give you minimum size requirements. They also have a tab of prebuilt rooms that have all the objects for each room if you don’t want to design it yourself which is really neat.

You also have to have a yard, a shower, and an infirmary. You can also make visitation rooms for their family to come visit them.

You can also have S.W.A.T. teams and drug-sniffing dogs too.

What Makes This Game Interesting

This game is really fun. But it has a bit of a learning curve. I was confused for awhile even after I played the tutorial. It does take time to get used to; setting up the buildings, adding doors, objects inside the building and making sure prisoners can’t get away.

There’s a lot of useful information on the screen, such as how big the minimum size of a building has to be, and what objects are required to make the building complete.

It’s A Challenging Game

Prison Architect is challenging because of trying to reform prisoners, trying to keep them from killing each other, and from escaping your prison. You can be an easy-going warden and let them have a lot of freedom or you can be a hard, tough warden and keep them locked up a lot.

"Prison Architect" Trailer

Managing Prisoners Is Fun in Game

Managing the prisoners is interesting and challenging. You have to try your best to keep them happy. You can also try to reform them through drug rehab, going to chapel/mosque, education, and make them work, making license plates or bedframes. They can spend money to buy money from the prison store to buy items that will make them happier.

You also have to keep an eye out for contraband and that’s an interesting aspect of the game too. How often do you inspect the cells to make sure they’re not digging tunnels?

You have to keep an eye on a lot in this game and make sure prisoners c

This is going to happen to you a lot.
This is going to happen to you a lot.

How You Play Could Depend on Your Real-Life View of Prison

Prison Architect is a fascinating game, especially depending on how you feel about prison in real life. It makes you think about if you ran a prison in real life.

One thing I find to be interesting is that they include death row. If you’re pro-death penalty you can build it, if you aren’t, you don’t have to build it. It’s just interesting that you can add it if you want.

You can also schedule the acclivities they do during the day and night and it’s really interesting, especially when fights and riots break out and you’re trying to control everyone.

You can also decide the meal quality and how many times a day they eat.

That's one big prison.
That's one big prison.

You Can Download Custom Prisons

You can use the Steam workshops to download custom mad prisons or upload your own creation to the workshop. It’s really interesting and fun to see what people can make.

They have prisons based on real-life locations and I have seen the Death Star from Star Wars too. There are also a lot of other mods that can make the game interesting to play too.

Reader Poll

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There Is Console Exclusive DLC

I noticed on the PlayStation 4 store that there is DLC that I have only seen on the PlayStation 4 which is having a psychiatric ward in your prison, and while that’s interesting, I am not about to buy a game I already own just for the DLC. I didn’t see this as a DLC for the PC version of the game. It’s probably DLC on Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well.

It is interesting to see DLC for a game that I haven’t seen on the PC version of the game though. I think it’s so people will have an incentive to purchase it on console too.

The PC version goes on sale and has better discounts for the game’s price so I recommend getting it on PC if you can over a console.

This Game Has Weird Bugs

This game isn’t perfect, it does have some bugs, mainly the guards or workers get stuck in some places, and the game does have random errors during the game and it has crashed a couple times on me.

I’ve also had bugs where I can’t get workers to install pipes because they just won’t go over there even if I prioritize it as urgent. It is really annoying sometimes because there’s something I want them to do and they just won’t do it.

I’ve Spent a Lot of Time Playing This Game

I’ve dumped a lot of time into this game and it’s a lot of fun, the animations are interesting, albeit cartoonish, but it’s a lot of fun. The developers keep updating the game after it came out of Early Access.

It’s so interesting to watch your prisoners interact with other inmates and your guards. You feel really good when you have a low reoffending rate and when you have prisoners that make parole and don’t come back.

It’s also nice to see you earn a profit from your prison while trying to rehabilitate prisoners. You can also sell your prison and start over if you want and you’ll have more money to start with.

It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy playing Prison Architect. It’s also the best prison simulation game because even though there are other prison games, they’re really bad and buggy.

Final Grade: A-

I highly recommend this game if you like simulation games. There have been other prison simulation games, but they’ve been horrible. They tend to crash all the time and just randomly stop working.

It’s a really interesting game because you can make male of female prisons and that wasn’t in the launch version of the game. Female prisons have their own challenges because female inmates will have babies and they require their own special cell and nursery so it makes it even more challenging than just a regular male prison.

The developers keep adding interesting updates to the game that keep you on your toes.

It’s a very interesting game if you like simulation games and it’s a very well done game.

This is a lot of fun, but it is a little expensive at $29.99, but if you get it on a Steam sale it’s worth it. The full version has been released and it’s a lot of fun. I recommend it if you like simulation games, you can check out YouTube videos if you’re interested in it.

Prison Architect is a lot of fun and the best prison simulation game in the genre so don’t hesitate to get it, but since Steam has a lot of sales you can wait for a discount if you don’t want to pay full price for it. I highly recommend picking it up when it‘s on sale on Steam or

My Rating:

5 stars for Videogame Review: Prison Architect (2015)

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