I whole heartedly recommend this game. At the time of review I have 210 hrs of game time in. Far behind in my library at #2 is Kerbal Space Program with 105. This game is perfectly paced, completely open to infinite designs and has so much depth I can easily see hitting 500hrs. After the latest update (alpha 31) this game is packed with content and the workshop offers massive expansion and awesome mods (Imperial architect being my current fav. Star wars prison!).
As big as you wanna be! Want to make a small 25 person prison that runs efficiently and makes money with minimum security bluecollar criminals? Go ahead! Want to make a 500 person Max security only iron curtain that can hold and control intensely volatile and psychotic madmen? Sure can!
Well designed! The UI and indicators for things like prison heat, tech tree, controlling and managing intake and regime of the inmates and hiring and firing staff, as well as prison programs is easy to understand and impliment. I've played plenty of games that after opening them up and fiddling with for 20 minutes I can hardly make heads or tails of the UI or it has infinitely frusturating menus to navigate or item info to memorize. Not so with PA.
Entertaining! Set up phone taps and learn a prisoner has set up a time for someone to throw booze over the wall into the garbage area? Watch them toddle over into the area and as they head back inside stop them and counter their contraband! Initiate shakedowns to find inmates who have dummys in their beds and are digging tunnels! The excitement of unearthing a tunnel they have been digging for days that NEARLY reached the outside but was thwarted is always satisfying. Recruit confidential informants to reveal persons who have knives, needles, poison SHOTGUNS in their cells. Use sniffer dogs to inspect incoming food and items to ensure they are poison and piano wire free. The combinations and implications are endless.
No two prisons are ever the same! One prison may be full of raging alcoholics, another may be a mix of volatile angry inmates and ex law enforcment or snitches that must be contained and seperated or death ensues! My last prison had 3 legendary prisoners, each capable of disarming and killing guards in a single punch. Not only must you constantly learn to streamline your prison and improve every aspect of the design you also have to adapt and keep tabs on your current and incoming prisoners, keeping the troublemakers at bay and keeping your staff running smoothly.
Still early access. This isnt necessarily a con but something to be take into consideration. This game has all the content and playability and optimization of a full release but as new features ar implimented new bugs invariably creep up. In the most recent patch my cooks tend to randomly pile dirty trays in the cells of my supermax and solitary prisoners. Later in the day they pick them up and wash them. On occasion I will assign a block to eat in a specific canteen, and then assign a specific kitchen to feed them. Later on suddenly I will check my prisoners needs and some are starving. I will check my food distribution screen and randomly the kitchen and canteen to cellblock link is totally gone. Its not perfect, but none of these bugs or issues are anywhere near game breaking and are fairly smalltime.
In conclusion get this game. The developers are awesome, the game is amazing, and its not even complete yet! I look forward to future updates and features and the workshop community is actively making new mods regularily that add even more to the experience. 98/100