A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Prison Architect is a prison-simulation game that pulls no punches. Players build and manage private prisons. They can opt to take good care of the prisoners -- providing proper facilities for hygiene, recreation, and laundry as well as programs for addiction and alcoholism -- or they can neglect their needs, save money, and use brute force when prisoners turn rowdy. Some officials not under the player's control prove to be hopelessly corrupt, turning a profit for keeping certain prisoners locked up. Convicts sometimes riot, killing each other, guards, and staff, while leaving bodies in pools of blood. Narrative sequences depict serious crimes, including prison murders, a half-naked woman and her lover murdered in bed, and hostages shot in the head. The bulk of the game has a very basic visual style, with characters presented as colorful wooden pegs, but a handful of cartoon snapshots show graphic scenes. Both prisoners and officials use plenty of strong language, including "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
You construct a prison in a certain amount of time. Then prisoners will come and live in your prison.causing all sorts of Mayham that you have to fix only using the resources(only resource is money).you do this by buying things like store,chapel and even a gym.you can also imply them in different parts of the prison to keep them occupied and to help out like in the lunchroom or the laundry.the goal is to keep all you prisoners happy and in your prison.to keep them from gaining contraband or ascaping you can put fences up and place metal detectors infront of areas like metal shop and the cafiteria.
What's it about?
PRISON ARCHITECT attempts to make enjoyable a task that most people probably wouldn't think of as much fun: building and managing a private prison. Its story missions -- which tell tales of criminals, mobsters, and corrupt officials -- lead players through the basics of building and maintaining a prison. You'll learn how to construct specific types of rooms, how to manage power and water, how to deal with staffing and bureaucratic concerns, and how to cope with emergencies such as fires and riots. You'll even have the option of improving prisoners' lives by starting therapeutic programs and helping the guards rest and recuperate by constructing staff facilities. Once finished with these lengthy episodes, the real game begins. You'll get to build a prison from scratch, which includes clearing out a patch of natural land, designing and building each and every structure, and picking a warden and planning guard patrols. You can set your own modifiers, making the game as easy or as difficult as you like. Completed prisons can be uploaded and shared with the game's community.
Is it any good?
To get the most out of this strategy game, you need to be willing to spend the first five or six hours just learning how everything works. The designers have done a good job of injecting some narrative elements into these tutorials to keep them interesting, but this part of the game is nonetheless pretty linear. Once you get through that part of the experience, things start to loosen up, providing a wealth of freedom which you'll be fully trained to make the most of. You could just start playing around in the sandbox mode prior to completing the story missions, but you'd likely find yourself woefully lost as to how much of anything works.
That's not to say the game is poorly designed. Far from it. Its makers have done a terrific job of making all the menus intelligible and intuitive. But these menus create a massive web of interconnected systems that requires some instruction. Without working through at least a few good examples, it's hard to know the proper contexts in which to properly exploit buildings, staff, and infrastructure -- such as the intricacies of the water and power systems, both of which are a bit finicky but vital for prisoners' health, safety, and contentment. But if you take the time to properly learn about these parts of the game in the tutorial, you'll likely be itching to put your newfound knowledge to work constructing, staffing, maintaining, and managing your own penitentiary. And if somewhere along the way you discover you've learned something about the complexities and problems confronting real-world prisons, all the better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Why are violent games often so popular? Do you feel different when playing games in which your character is the one carrying out violent acts versus those in which you merely witness acts of violence by nonplayer characters?
Discuss the concept of prisons, including their place in our society and how they're managed. Do you think they should be run by the government or by private enterprise? What sorts of rights should prisoners have while serving their sentences?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Double Eleven
- Release date: June 28, 2016
- Genre: Simulation
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
For kids who love simulating stuff
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.