This review will mainly deal with campaign mode in Double Eleven’s new PS4 game, Prison Architect. If you’ve never played Prison Architect before on PC, I highly suggest playing through the campaign mode which consists of five stories. The campaign mode takes you through the ins-and-outs of how to run a successful prison and are in essence tutorial missions but done in such a way where they you’ll actually want to complete them.
I know most people will start off talking about the graphics so I’ll start with that. The graphics aren’t very PS4-ish and aren’t what you’d expect from a PS4 game, but this isn’t your average game. I know there will be people out there that will never give this game a chance because of the way it looks, but in all honesty, this game freaking rocks and much of that has to do with the art style. In my opinion, this game looks great for what it is. It’s a top down, management game that doesn’t need to look photo-realistic. There is usually so much going on at once that the simplistic nature of the character design and presentation keeps your attention focused on managing your prison.
The very first Prison Architect story is entitled Death Row and deals with one of your prisoners awaiting electrocution via the death penalty. If you want to experience the story for yourself, I suggest not watching the video above as it is a walkthrough of the entire story, minus the optional stuff you need for a trophy.
In this chapter you’re mainly learning about the basics when it comes to building construction, object placement, and power management. These are all important skills you need to know when starting out. What I really love about the way they’ve done the tutorial is that they’ve intertwined this rather interesting and emotional story into the mix. Again, I won’t spoil too much of it here, but you really feel sorry for this guy who’s about to meet his maker. This isn’t just a nameless criminal, but someone who had a real life outside of these prison walls.
I also love how these stories are presented to you. The story itself is presented in the same way the game is with its simple art style, but is supplemented with Polaroids with much better art work. These Polaroids are used to convey emotion and action and work quite well when combined with the popup text you have to read for the story elements. There is no voice acting in the game, but I don’t think it really needs it. The photos and text do a great job of really pulling you into the story. This part of the game really stood out to me.
And that is how it basically is with every one of the following chapters in the campaign mode. Each one has a self contained story attached to it but you soon discover that they are all linked in some way despite each story taking place in a different prison. Each chapter also increases in difficulty and increases the amount of things you’re allowed to do and build. For instance, in the second chapter you learn about emergency services and how to deal with fires. In the third chapter you are tasked with how to stop riots, and in the forth chapter you have to deal with how to satisfy the needs of your prisoners and how to rehabilitate them. I’ll leave the fifth chapter as a mystery that you can discover on your own.
When you finish the campaign missions, there is a free play mode included where you can create your own prisons and even share them with the community.
If you’re going to buy any game this week, I highly suggest picking up Prison Architect. I’ve had so much fun with it since I’ve had it and even played several of the stories over again in order to gain their respective trophies (which is gained by completing the optional objectives in each). While I know this review was only for the campaign mode, the story to me was actually very good and well worth the playthrough. The controls are very intuitive for having to use a controller and the whole process of building and maintaining a prison is quite fun. I didn’t think it would be as fun as it ended up being.
I can’t wait to get into the free building mode next and being able to unlock all the building and management features at one time. Hopefully I”ll get a review up soon on this portion of the game as well as more video of it so you guys can get a good look at what the rest of the game is like.
Below are the rest of the chapters 2-4 that I recorded but no chapter five so you can play that entirely on your own. If you want to watch more of Prison Architect, check out my Youtube channel as I’ll be streaming a lot more of Prison Architect soon.
Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.
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