I absolutely love sandbox building games that aren't a cosmetic tea party. This game has done nothing but amuse me as I've tried and failed to manage a prison properly probably a half dozen times now, but that's really the beauty of it. I could probably read a guide and get a lot of "I win" information, but games like these are just big ant farms slash chemisty sets where I like to be forced to evaluate my choices and try to balance a ton of factors into the plan. The best thing about this game is that everything is staged and nothing is instant. Your plan has to work from A to B and it's up to decide what you build or research next, but once you do you've sacrificed something and opened a hole somewhere. Eventually you have moments of stability where things seem to be going ok, but another wrench is thrown and the whole thing can spiral into chaos quickly.
If you glanced at this and thought it would be a cheap imitation of something that should be labeled "Tycoon" and thrown in a bargin bin, then you are sorely mistaken. This is an OCD stress test of micromanagement, choice making and logistics. It feels like everything matters and sometimes it feels like everything you do is 5 steps behind the thing you should have already been doing 10 steps ago. Of course you can pace the game at your choices and even play in full "free" mode where you have lots of money, but even still...you aren't inviting kittens into your Barbie Dream House that you are filling up full of cheap furniture. You are inviting murderers and thieves into a house full of other murderers and thieves and it's up to get a TON of variables to play nice with each other. They are not stupid. They will revolt. They will try to escape. They will steal from the kitchen and try to stab people, etc etc.
The scope to which this game has expanded is more than impressive and for a game that started off mentioning Dwarf Fortress as it's inspiration, it's created something even more unique that casts it's own shadow. Of course there have been other prison games, but this one has nailed so many concepts perfectly and given the track record for upgrades and patches, there will be more. I have found some bugs and the foundation system took me a while
to really get my head around. I have to say the "Planning Mode" is something that every single builder type game needs to embrace right the eff now as well.
This is a solid recommendation from me even in Early Access state. If you don't like to support that kind of thing, completely understandable. The devs are active and the game has had over 20 patches full of content and fixes just since I've bought it. I actually turned it on just to see how it was progressing and I'm sucked into it and hopeless trying to figure out how last more than 30 minutes without someone dying. (I know I could read a guide or something but who the heck plays games like that?)