Alpha 34 , now that seems like a lot of Alphas doesn't it?
I suppose it is but hey why not take the time to get this game right?
Prison Architect has everything I like in a game.
It's simple on the surface but then as you get underneath those tasty layers it exposes you to things that you never thought that you would need to consider.
Running a prison from laying it's first brick to then ensuring all the infrastructure and routines are in place is a full time job and that's exactly what this game feels like.
There is always something to think about and you will need a pen and pad to jot down things as I did.
Planning layouts, remembering tasks, coming up with new ideas and just a whole host of other finer details of running a prison.
Before playing Alpha 33 and 34 I watched the YOU TUBE update videos from the games creators Mark Morris and Chris Delay at Introversion and you can hear the enthusiasm that they have for this game as they add in new features each month that just alter the game experience in subtle ways to try and get the balance just right.
Hey Mr Post Man
In Aplha 33 the Mail room building was added so that you can receive letters for your inmates and get them distributed to their cells which in turn can increase prisoner happiness but at the same time the mail could contain contrband, so as with everything in Prison Architect, if you introduce something that might benefit the overall running of the prison then there is always the chance that it may turn out to be a negative too as the prisoners may abuse the system to get contraband into the inner sanctum of your prison walls.
Grade A Cells
Alpha 33 also contains the ability to create graded cells which match up well behaved prisoners to better living conditions than those who constantly misbehave. This is a great idea as it enables you to really customise your prisoners cell areas whereas previously you would just create identical boxes to contain your prisoners in the most efficient manner as possible.
These touches really make you feel like that you making your own decisions on your own prison as you might want to create a 5* Luxury wing with all the mod cons and then contrasting that against the dungeon wing where prisoners are locked up like battery hens. It's a really interesting insight into how people might react to differet types of reform and security in a prison environment.
Again as I said before what may seem simple on the surface turns out to be a complex game mechanic underneath once you really start to understand what all these tweaks do to the overall feel of the game.
Adding things like Radios, En Suite Showers, Book Cases, PC's and those type of items to your cells will raise the room grade of your cells positively but it's no good just creating a prison of high grade cells and expecting everyone to be happy as prisoners will not see any contrast between a good and a bad cell and therefore wont be any happier as all the cells are the same.
It's a concept that means that you can't just easily 'cheat' and break the game by throwing money at it. If a prisoner is in a high grade cell and then misbehaves then they will be removed to a lower grade cell, got it?
The last new addition to Alpha 33 was the % likely to re-offend stat on a prisoners profile. This is an indication of how your prison is performing in relation to preventing offenders from re-offending by looking at the effect of your prison on them in terms of the reform that has been dished out to the inmate over the course of his stay.
Gang Bangers & Corner Shops
Alpha 34 brought even more Architectural goodies were introduced to the game as we saw inmates with gang allegiances and full body tattoos make their way into your prison.
Aswell as that there is the addition of the prison shop which enables inmates to work and also purchase items that helps with overall inmate well being. Of course the shop is a potential source of contraband but does have a potential benefit to your prison population.
We've Come A Long Way Baby
Just reading through this you can really see that this game has come such a long way since it was first released on Steam and the developers have poured a whole lotta love into tweaking it perfectly whilst working closely with the fans of the game through the community that has sprung up around this game.
The game itself is addictive as crack and it just sucks you in from minute one and on this playthrough I decided to give myself unlimited funds and close myself from receiving new inamtes until I'd actually completed my prison build. I can see myself spending the next month in real time building what I think is the perfect prison template only for it to be utter chaos when I open the gates for new intake! But boy oh boy it will be fun every step of the way and that's the point of this game, it's as intricate as hell but still loads of fun and has bags of character.
Here's a confession from me, I'm hypnotised by the utilities view! I could spend hours just tinkering with pipes and cables, I love it and it's genius the way it transports you to another other worldly view when you start to look at the intricacies of your plumbing and wiring…..
Don't take it from me though, buy this game off of Steam and get designing your very own Alcatraz or Holloway!
I already can't wait for Alpha 35……………until then I'm just putting the finishing touches to my VIP prison , pool tables in the holding cell? Why not!?