The lights are on
Introversion has given early supporters of its upcoming
prison simulation access to several snapshots of its slowly evolving alpha. Now
that we're on the eighth major-version alpha release, how is the game shaping
Prison Architect is much more of a functional game now than
the last time I dug into it (for a print preview in the January issue of Game
Informer) thanks to new prisoner behaviors and tools for the player. The
challenges of building and maintaining a profitable and (reasonably) safe
prison complex by designing its layout and hiring staff are still rough and
often nebulous, but expecting a "fun" game out of an alpha version is
unreasonable. As of the most recent alpha, though, glimpses of Introversion's
vision are starting to shine through.
Prisoners aren't organizing themselves into gangs and
running meth rings out of the laundry yet, but they react much more organically
to situations. Being aware of dangerous situations like shower time or yard exercise
is important, especially before you can afford security cameras and additional
guards. Some dumb issues still exist, with edge cases like hungry prisoners
escaping lockdown or solitary confinement because the cell door doesn't close
fast enough only to be chased down and returned by a guard in an endless loop. Hungry
prisoners complain instead of eating the food literally right in front of them
as well, but the general flow of prison life is beginning to take shape.
The fog of war is much more important and smoothly
implemented than in past alpha releases. If your guards can't see an area, you
have no idea what your prisoners could be up to - and they're more than likely
taking advantage of that fact to sneak improvised weapons, break stuff, and get
into fights. Maintaining visibility across your prison is one of the major
challenges, at least until you have a comprehensive CCTV system.
The new staff-only mode for doors is a huge boon to players'
ability to control the flow of traffic through their prisons. Since you don't
control your staff directly (except for guards, which Introversion has said is
likely to change for release since Prison Architect is supposed to be a
simulation, not a real-time strategy game of quashing riots), having separate
entrances and walkways for staff is great for both efficiency and safety.
More advanced options, like calling in riot cops and
firefighters, will be important tools at some point in the future, but at the
moment the game struggles to stay in the fun, tense zone between a smoothly
operating prison that prints money with little risk and a failed ruin where the
staff are under siege and escapes are the norm rather than the exception. Those
times when you're trying to contain a riot while keeping the kitchen running so
that things don't deteriorate any further are great, but Introversion has some work
to do to ensure that those situations are neither simple to defuse or quickly
spiral out of control.
Envisioning a roadmap between Prison Architect's current
state and the game Introversion hopes it becomes is relatively easy now that
more of the core building blocks are implemented. If the developers can come up
with more interesting events, behaviors, and goals that bust players out of
their box, Prison Architect could be something special. I'm pleased to see the
progress made over the last few months, even though Introversion has many more
months of effort to fulfill Prison Architect's potential.
Looking forward to it.
This reminds me of a classic pc game. Evil Lair simulator or something like that, pretty cool game.
Sounds like a fun game. I enjoy these simple yet complex simulation games. Was this going to be coming to Steam or something else? I would probably get it if it pops up on Steam. Not sure about others.
I like your writing adam and i often agree with you. i've been keeping an eye on this game and hope it turns out well.
It's actually coming along nicely it seems.
I'm going to get this for sure, looks pretty awesome!
This looks like a lot of fun, I'll definitley check it out when it's finished.
Ahhh, this looks great. Anyone remember prison tycoon? Anyone? Yeah... I love these simulation games, I am atrocious with anything that requires speed.
This sounds like it could have some real potential.