Prison Architech Review Alpha 21



In Prison Architect you are the overseer of a prison, and your job is to create your very own prison! You will create cells, showers, canteens, kitchens, and everything in between to create a prison however you wish! You will start by selecting the size you wish to start your prison (small, medium, large) and your options, such as fog of war, continuous intake, etc. Once you are OK with your selections the game will begin and drop off 8 workers and you can start designing your prison from there.

The gameplay reminds me of Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital, where you build buildings by clicking and dragging a size, letting the workers build it, placing doors and windows where you like, and setting the interior once its finished. You will need buildings to set up your holding cells, power and water stations, and building the electric and water lines to supply your prisons utility needs. You will need to create offices for your administration, such as wardens, security chief, psychologists, accountants and more, as well as supply your prisoner’s needs, such as being fed, showered, cleaned, and more.

Starting off, you will not have a lot of money, so you will need to take in grants, which you will give you a cash advance, and more cash for completing the objectives within, such as Basic Detention Needs Grant (building the basics for your base), and give you an idea of what to do next if you are new to the game.


You can hire staff to help out in the prison or use for administration purposes. Janitors, gardeners, guards, armed guards, dog handlers and more can be hired to help out throughout your prison, and administration staff can research new rooms and bonuses for your prison, using the bureaucracy tab with an office for each.

Guards can be stationed in rooms or set on patrols using the deployment tab (researched first). You can set the guard routes where you need them to be and they will follow the path until tired and need to rest in the staff rooms.


Prisoners come in 3 flavors as of current build. Grey suit prisoners are minimum security, orange suits are medium security, and red suits are maximum security. Obviously the red and orange suit prisoners are the more dangerous variety, and will love to try to escape, steal weapons, steal and abuse drugs and alcohol, fight, kill, and more. In Alpha 21, you can now set different schedules for each security class of prisoner. You can set a schedule for each prisoner class for each day, and you will be able to set whether they stick to their cells, eat, work, shower, go to the yard, etc.

Prisoners can also work in your prison, and as of the current build, you can have them cook, clean the prison, go to reform classes, do laundry in the laundry rooms, and use the workshop to create superior beds, wood planks, and license plates. Some jobs, like kitchen work and the workshop, require them to pass the required training classes before they are allowed to work in said projects.

Reform programs allow your prisoners to learn skills to work in the prison, and basic education or addiction reform classes to beat addictions (alcohol and drugs currently). These classes will cost you money eat time they are started and are only allowed during the work phases of the day that you set. Some require 2 hours and some are 3 hour classes with multiple attendance to either pass or fail the class.


Sometimes, depending on the needs of the prisoners (depending on if needs are met or not), they will begin fighting, trying to escape through toilets in the cells, start riots, start fires,attempt to kill others, or overdose on drugs. You guards will respond to the incidents, and if the situation becomes too much, you can put the prison on lock-down, shutting the doors and isolating problem areas until you can overcome it.

You have access to emergency or problem solving tabs such as lock-down, shakedowns (search the whole prison for contraband), or call in emergency services (riot police, paramedics, and fire fighters). If guards spot prisoners causing misconduct, they will arrest the prisoner and send the prisoner to lock-down or solitary confinement (you set the punishment policies yourself as well). Punished prisoners will be suppressed, which will make them lower their heads and become more obedient to the prison’s rule. You can even punish a prison yourself by clicking on them and setting their punishment if you want to punish them further.

Also with the medical and morgue rooms, you can hire medical staff to cure wounds of staff and prisoners alike, as well as help cure drug abuse (with the correct program in use).

With Alcohol and Drug abuse in the game (Alpha 21), If prisoners aren’t being in detox or stopped, they can overdose and die if they steal drugs and use them. You can use the new programs to set offenders to try to clean them of their addictions.


When you are done with your prison and don’t have any recent incidents, such as death or escapes, you can sell shares of your prison and sell the prison entirely and make a brand new prison with the cash you collected! This will give you more options and have you create a more elaborate prison in the future. You can still play with your prison, but can only sell it once! You can also set the prisoner’s food rations using the policy tab, such as more or less food variety, which will have an affect on their moods.

Is it worth 30 dollars?

In my opinion, even in Alpha, the game is playable and fun, but not worth 30 or more dollars in its current state. I would say 10 or 15 dollars is more reasonable, since it is in Alpha and no where near done or complete. There is also mod support for the game on steam and its Steam Workshop option, to add more play time to the game. Its a great game even in Alpha, and I look forward to seeing what Introversion will add in future editions of the game!


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