Preview: Prison Architect

Prison Architect is the latest game to hit the Game Preview programme on Xbox One. After a successful outing on PC, Introversion Software, a UK based production team, enlisted the help of Double Eleven to bring this incarcerate-em-up to consoles.

Prison Architect (as you may have guessed) is a game in which you are an architect for a prison. However, on top of that you also have the day to day running of your prison to tend to as THE GOVERNOR!

Designing a prison turns out to be fairly straightforward once you have done a tutorial mission or two. The simple controls allow you to drag your building foundations, paths and the like to wherever they are required. You must start by building a basic detention centre, which includes an initial holding cell, yard, canteen and kitchen. Oh and whatever you do, don’t forget to build a fence round it all!

Next up is a cell block, and you get to essentially decide how much of a misery you want your inmates’ lives to be. You can build them teeny tiny cells that have just a bed and a toilet in them, or you can create plush pads to make their stay more comfortable. The inmates will let you know if there are any problems though, through the wonderful medium of dance…! Well, actually they’ll stab your guards and try to escape! Almost the same thing.

From there on in, the world is your oyster! You can create a whole host of different areas to either entertain your inmates or punish them as well as staff areas and utility areas to keep everything ticking over nicely.


What truly separates Prison Architect from your run of the mill tycoon game is the huge number of options available to players. They resemble something closer to those of Football Manager than any Tycoon game. This is not to say it is overly complicated though; it just allows you to do so much.

Some of the most interesting features of the game actually lie behind the scenes – arranging the daily routine of the prisoners, the punishments for certain offences, and even small details like how often the inmates clothing gets washed all need to be handled! It’s just a shame you don’t get to choose the detergent too. Daz or Ariel? (other detergents are available)

On top of all this, you can arrange things like education for your prisoners to lower the likelihood of re-offending upon release. You can organise for them to work such as making number plates and other things in order to increase revenue. I’m not entirely sure how that isn’t slave labour but to hell with them! They shouldn’t have interfered with that goat!


The game, much like this article, also doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is brilliant! Some of the offences that the inmates are banged up for are hilarious. There are a number of brilliantly re-created stereotypes on display also with mobsters and serial killers to mention but two.

Plus! There is more still to come! The game is just in preview currently and so therefore it is unfinished. The PC version of the game is constantly being updated, and it stands to reason that the Xbox version will get some of those updates too when it is released fully. There are currently a few bugs which is to be expected at this stage but the game runs surprisingly well apart from these minor glitches.


Definitely one to watch out for upon its full release and we look forward to many more prison riots! Until the 16th of March, you can also get your prisoner in the game by submitting it to Double Eleven here!

Prison Architect is available from the Xbox Store priced at £19.99. Remember, as part of the Game Preview programme Prison Architect is not considered to be a finished product, so may have issues or glitches. There is, however, a free trial available. If the game leaves the Game Preview programme to become a full title we’ll have a full review.

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Jeff Simpkins is a part time Twitch streamer, Part-time news & review writer for Xbox One UK and full time legend (or so he likes to think). Jeff is also a huge supporter of Special Effect, The gamer's charity.

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