In the Grim Games series, I recommend titles that are fun and a little darker than your average video game. These somewhat sinister games add another dimension to playing, exposing you to moral conundrums, even straight up evil. This second post focuses on…
Prison Architect is, as the title implies, about building correctional facilities. You take on the role of a builder and administrator of wonderful, for-profit prisons! You can more or less set your own challenge level when playing this game, depending on the number and type of prisoners you decide to take on. Of course, more prisoners means more money, with which you can build an even bigger, more advanced prisons. Meanwhile, you have to ensure that the inmates behave, don’t kill each other or the staff (too often), keep them from escaping, and avoid rioting. But you should probably prepare for them doing all of the above.
The game rewards the strategic player. For maximum efficiency, plan ahead and avoid making life more difficult than it needs to be. This applies to everything from the location of various buildings, laying down water pipes and mapping out patrol routes, to longer term plans spanning more than a single prison.
I like to start by making a fairly small, low security facility, where only about a dozen or so inmates have plenty of space and things to do. Once this friendly place is running smoothly, it will generate a small profit, at which point I sell it off. By doing so, I get a bigger pile of starting cash, and can start building a new, bigger, meaner prison.
Mostly, this game is about resource management and planning ahead, but you do feel like an Evil Overlord, as you callously make decisions affecting the prisoners in your care. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself not bothering with windows in every cell (or any), and putting off frivolous things, like a place for prisoners to receive visitors, until you’re on the brink of a riot. You might even find yourself gambling with over crowding your prison just before selling it, just to pump up the profit margin. As long as you can do it without causing any incidents, that might negatively impact the sale. Good times in the slammer!