Prison Architect Features

FeatureEarly Access games done right

Some of the games that deliver on their promises.

Dungeon of the Endless, Subnautica - quite a lot of Early Access video games start with spaceships in flames, hurtling artfully towards strange planets, bound for tales of peril and survival. Possibly this is just the best way to kick off a narrative that will involve crafting and permadeath, two of this era's greatest loves. Partly, though, it seems a tacit acknowledgement of how so many people feel about Early Access in general - that it is the place where bright promise burns up, where landing sites become graves.

FeatureHard time with the Prison Architect alpha

It made $100k in three days, but what's life like behind bars with Introversion's latest?

Ever been to prison? No? Me neither. The closest I've come to hard time was probably the first night of my school exchange programme in Germany. They were a very nice family, don't get me wrong, and I'm sure they meant well, but in hindsight I have to question their decision to dump me in a basement guestroom, because all I had to keep me company from 8pm until the morning was a series of bizarre mechanical clanking noises and one tiny window near the ceiling. Oh, and a strangely reddened copy of Stephen King's "Misery". Eat your heart out, Tim Robbins.

Prison Architect Preview: The Key to Success

FeaturePrison Architect Preview: The Key to Success

A management sim with an emotive twist.

Sound designer Alistair Lindsay stands onstage at the Bit of Alright conference in London, strange noises booming from the room's PA system. He's demonstrating the aural splendour of Introversion's new game, Prison Architect - a classic management sim with a smart twist.

At the rear of the hall, a group of us sit around a table of laptops, sampling the opening mission. We play to the soundtrack of Prison Architect's eerie ambiance married with Lindsay's in-depth commentary. For just a moment, the vibe is unsettling.

It's all about psychological trickery to get inside the minds of players says Lindsay, as he loads up the execution sequence we're simultaneously playing towards. Listen carefully, he says, and we'll notice that the sound of the electric chair powering up is, in fact, the same sound of a pistol cocking that we heard in a separate cut-scene minutes earlier. An unrealistic touch, perhaps, but it primes us for something awful to happen, and it all contributes to Prison Architect's dark, suspenseful mood.

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