Before I begin eagerly gushing, it’s worth noting that I had to be reminded more than once that I have an article to write, and that I need to stop playing in order to write it. What I’m saying is that Prison Architect has, aha, taken me prisoner.
I had intended to play three hours or so, take some screenshots, and get some words down, but once I started playing I remembered exactly what it was I love about the game. I’ve always enjoyed designing and building things in games, from the fiendish goblin grinders of Dwarf Fortress, to the fanciful kitsch of the Sims franchise on occasion. Prison Architect scratches the itch for complex design without a massive learning curve. In other words, the intended three hours was almost completely taken up by the building phase. Admittedly, this is because I decided it would be quicker and easier to use the “infinite money” option, which I’d never previously used. I was wrong.