Title: Prison Architect: Nintendo Switch Edition
Developer: Introversion Software/Double Eleven Limited
Publisher: Double Eleven
Genre: Strategy, Action, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: Mature 17+ – Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Nudity, Sexual Content, Violence
Release Date: 16/08/2018
Price: £24.99– Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.
What the Developers say
In Prison Architect you will see the impact of your grand design on the lives of your inmates be it a utopic centre for rehabilitation, a brutal Super Max Prison or anything in between.
Acting as both architect and governor, you control every detail of your Prison – from building new cells and facilities to hiring staff and creating reform programs – all while dealing with informants, contraband smuggling, gang warfare, full scale riots and more!
Expose your prison to a whole host of outrageous characters who will impact your prisons in unique ways, take charge of new prisons and build your penitentiary on exciting new plots!
All Day and a Night contains 8 new wardens, 8 new prison maps and 8 new plots to expand your prison experience and bend the rules!
• Show-off and share your prisons in World of Wardens.
• Equip your prison with new padded cells and a Criminally Insane wing
‘Your Design, Their Fate’ is the slogan for Prison Architect: Nintendo Switch Edition on the eShop and developer-publishers ‘Double Eleven’ have created a prison design simulator which stays true to this mantra from start to finish. Prison Architect sees you – an architect turned governor – design, develop and maintain a prison which holds inmates from all walks of life. Intrigued? Read on for a Rapid Review of Prison Architect: Nintendo Switch Edition.
Gameplay and Replayability
I want to get straight down to brass tacks with this one – Prison Architect is outstanding. From the incredibly detailed tutorials that offer excellent strategy and well-placed context (something I have not seen done so well in quite some time) to the free-play game modes and additional DLC, ‘Double Eleven’s’ latest release packs a punch! The reason I aim to ensure this Rapid Review is truly ‘rapid’ is that, just like becoming an architect in the real world, Prison Architect is going to demand a lot of your time and efforts!
The tutorials as mentioned above, aptly named ‘Prison Stories’ in the main menu, are an absolute must to have any success with this game. Here you learn the ropes of Prison management. However, the game is about so much more than this, with the construction itself being a focal point too. Each of the five tutorials introduces you to new concepts which are required to make your prison a fully-functioning system, and all of it is played out through specific requirements set by the CEO. What I liked most about the tutorials is that it felt like I was already playing the game, and not having to go through some overly elaborate introduction to get to the main game. This was achieved through story-telling, with detailed cut-scenes and backstories present, and the fact that you can continue the development of the prison you are currently working on when the tutorial ends.
Now, to say Prison Architect is the most in-depth management game I have ever played would still not do it justice. The sheer number of options on offer is, at times, overwhelming. Thankfully, ‘Double Eleven’ have identified this themselves, and the tutorials limit the number of options you have available so that you can acquaint yourselves with them at the right pace. For anyone who purchases this game, I strongly recommend you start here as I can foresee it being a sticking point for some if all of the options are available from the off with little understanding of what to do with them.
Jumping into the main ‘crux’ of the game itself, there are four areas to consider. ‘Construction’, ‘Prison Running’, ‘Reports’ and ‘Emergencies’ are where you will focus your efforts, and these are accessible using the directional buttons. To provide an example of the scale of this game, selecting ‘Construction’ from the menu provides you with 14 different sub-menus which vary from structural design to water supply and even wiring! Building one room in your Prison requires you to lay the foundations, add an entry and exit points, provide water and electricity from the mains, and position objects that are needed for that particular room to function.
Other areas of the game require you to do everything from hiring new staff to check the reports to ensure that your Prison is a safe one and that the prisoners are catered for with their basic needs. When I reference basic needs, there are quite a few. If you thought keeping the inhabitants of your houses on The Sims was difficult enough, there are 18 different factors to consider and failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences.
If it hasn’t been made clear enough already, Prison Architect is a deep and complex game. It can be played by the casual gamer, with access only needed to some of the key elements to enjoy it. However, to reap the rewards, fully immersing yourself in everything it has to offer is essential. To give an idea of how much this is, here is a list of some of the other elements available:
- Manage prisoners daily regime including what they do, when, and for how long;
- Set policies on what happens to prisoners when they break the rules;
- Apply for grants to receive a fresh influx of money to spend;
- Offer reform programs for prisoners to get them back on the straight and narrow;
Outside of the ‘Prison Stories’, the game offers three unique gameplay modes. ‘Prison Architect’, ‘Prison Warden’, and the newly released ‘Escape Mode’ are available from the off. The first of the three, ‘Prison Architect’ does exactly what it says on the tin. The same can be said for the ‘Prison Warden’ Mode. Both require you to build your prison from one of the pre-set locations, of which there are 30 and manage the trials and tribulations which come with it. There are many variations you can manipulate, including the size of the Prison, it’s capacity, the kind of prisoners that can be placed there, and also what perks you wish to use.
The third gameplay mode is the ‘Escape Mode,’ recently released as an additional add-on. Anyone familiar with ‘The Escapists’ series will feel at home here, and ‘Prison Architect’ allows you to either escape from one of 20 pre-set prisons or to escape from one of your creations. This is a fantastic addition and one I plan to continue to make full use of. Starting the ‘Escape Mode’ offers you a series of variables to determine how difficult or challenging your escape will be. You can decide how much health you start with, what funds you begin with, your movement speed, and how quickly your tools and needs decay. Once determined, you then design your character and assign skill points to the six different attribute areas: Fighter, Merchant, Athlete, Chronos Traveller, Pack Mule, and Avid Learner.
Once inside the incarceration facility, you must plan your escape by any means necessary. Everything you would expect to encounter you do, from avoiding CCTV to monitoring guard movements and forging allegiances with other inmates.
The gameplay across all three game modes is intuitive and smooth, and there was next to no slow down regardless of how much was going on inside the Prison. Graphically, Prison Architect is a delight to experience – it is quirky, colourful and extremely well-presented. Personally, the cutscenes were most enjoyable and showcased the attention to detail that you can expect with this title.
Prison Architect sets out to be an in-depth, comprehensive prison management sim and it achieves this with ease! For all the advantages that this brings, it also means that the games’ fan base may be limited. Its complex nature won’t appeal to all, and some may be overwhelmed in the early stages. My advice: If this game is to be purchased only to sit on your backlog list then don’t buy it, you will never get around to playing it. Prison Architect is worthy of your undivided attention, and once it has it, you will struggle to get it back!
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Prison Architect at the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Prison-Architect-Nintendo-Switch-Edition-1423533.html