Evil Genius - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

A lot of genres have had a resurgence over the past five years, but none more successfully than management games. There are now more ways to direct trains, lay conveyor belts, coral visitors and profit, profit, profit than you could play in a lifetime. The question is: which of these famous timesinks is worth your time, and which of the whipsmart new hires can compete against the hagard, seen-it-all old dogs?

That’s what this list is for. These are 20 best management games you can play right now on PC, in no particular order, and updated for 2019.

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Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Paradox Interactive have bought Prison Architect off creators Introversion Software, nabbing the rights and assets while muttering about potentially making new ‘Architect’ games of their own. Introversion say that after over eight years of development, “we’ve taken Prison Architect just about as far as we can” and they’re doing something new. If Paradox, the publishers behind strategy games and build ’em ups from Crusader Kings II to Cities: Skylines, want to give ’em moolah in exchange for something they’re about done with, hey, bonus.

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Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Prison Architect has a little present for everyone before Introversion Software go into holiday lockdown. First debuted in September as a special opt-in build, the carceral management sim’s online multiplayer mode is now polished enough to be included in the game proper. Online mode is still considered ‘alpha’ and has some limitations, but they’ve otherwise got the core of the tiny-person punishment game working online. Probably best not to run an entirely public server – this one’s best with friends, for obvious reasons. Check out the developer announcement video below.

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Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

As grim as its subject matter may be, Introversion’s carceral management sim Prison Architect has carved out an oddly social niche as a game to play while streaming and chatting with friends. Today, those building brutalist monuments to man’s inhumanity to man can finally share the experience with chums, thanks to a public alpha test for multiplayer.

Expect bugs and a few features locked away, but if you feel like sharing the warden’s hat with your pals, check out the patch notes here with info on how to join the alpha testers. You can also watch Introversion (awkwardly) demoing the new mode in the update video below.

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Evil Genius - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

best-management

Base-building is de rigueur these days, what with all those survival games, Minecraft, Fallout 4 and now Fortnite, but before all that we had tiny top-down or isometric worlds in which we diligently built cities and dungeons and theme parks and rail networks. The central appeal of management games was and is that they give us an idealised sense of what it is like to create a game – to weave new worlds upon our screens, guided only by our imaginations, ingenuity and the limitations of the in-game taxation system. Magic, right there: the birth of your own universe.

For a while there, it looked as though the management flame was fading, choked by the low-grade tycoon games that littered supermarkets’ dusty games shelves. But this is The New Age Of PC Games, which means every near-abandoned idea of yesteryear has been revisited in thoughtful and ambitious new ways. Town sims and theme sims are now healthier and more vibrant than they’ve ever been, expanding. This round-up comprises the very best of the past and the very best of today: the twenty management games which are, by 2018 standards, most guaranteed to to consume your every waking thought.

These aren’t in any particular order, by-the-by: they are, simply, the 20 best management games. (more…)

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brock Wilbur)

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 12.41.07 AM

Look, y’all know me. I’m your friend Brock. I love anything having to do with a cult. Hell, I went out and found my own, once. And this week, I talked about cults and games YET AGAIN. So, I was a little surprised when an indie cult game snuck under my radar. It is named, pleasantly, Honey, I Joined A Cult. The game looks to be Prison Architect but for building and controlling a gaggle of beautiful dummies that want to worship whatever type of dumb God you want to make up. There’s also a bounty of funky 70s jams to keep the mood light as you fleece your flock.

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Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

Have You Played? >is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.>

Prison Architect delivers all the satisfaction of a traditional Bullfrog-style management game. You place walls, lay pipes and wires, and soon slip into a zen state familiar to anyone who played Theme Park. What makes the game special is the simulation of the game’s people, which reminds you over and over that you’re not building Disneyland. (more…)

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

two-point-hospital-1

As you may already have spotted, Theme Hospital joins the legions of 90s PC games being blessed with 21st century spiritual sequels. The Sega-published Two Point Hospital is the first game from Two Point Studios, the new endeavour from Bullfrog and Lionhead alumni Gary Carr and Mark Webley, Their plan, ultimately, is to follow-up Hospital with a clutch of other theme/sim/management games set in the same world – picking up, perhaps, where the Peter Molyneux-founded Bullfrog left off when EA closed them down.

I chatted to Carr, Webley and Two Point technical director Ben Hymers (himself an ex-Lionheader) about why they’re returning to Theme Hospital, why now, the importance of humour to it, what’s the same and what’s different, how the audience has changed since 1997, how they’ve been inspired by Prison Architect, Planet Coaster and Twin Peaks, and their plans for that world of sim games. (more…)

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

theme-park-2

The Simpsons, Aardman Animations, Twin Peaks, Prison Architect and, quite naturally, Theme Hospital – these are the major inspirations behind Two Point Hospital, an upcoming sim/management game from some of the folk responsible for Bullfrog’s Theme glory years. Two Point Hospital, a combination of management and comedy in a fantasy healthcare centre, is due for release – via publishers Sega – later this year, and the first trailer is below. I also had a big chat with lead devs and Bullfrog/Lionhead veterans Gary Carr and Mark Webley about the game over here. (more…)

Prison Architect - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

A beautiful and novel game suffering from something of an identity crisis, Scanner Sombre [official site] is the latest from Introversion Software, making a play for artfulness after a few years of successfully popularising themselves with Prison Architect. But though Scanner’s central conceit – using a laser scanner to ‘paint’ dot-array colours and shape onto your pitch black, subterranean surroundings – is gloriously atmospheric, it lacks the lightness of touch needed to achieve the emotional clout it so clearly wants to have. … [visit site to read more]

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