Prison Simulator – Facsimile of Better Games

Jul 23, 2017
Simulation

Prison Simulator is a game that has taken one look at the success of Prison Architect and decided “I want that”. Sadly, that’s about all they thought about.

In Prison Simulator, you control the workings of a prison just starting out. An oddly clunky and eerie feeling UI urges you to recruit prisoners and straight away get them working in a workshop to make you money. The advisors and instructions all feel very similar to the tongue in cheek humor from Tropico, but without any of the actual humor. Broken English and confusing instructions await as you try to figure out why on earth all your prisoners are beating each other up.

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The game, sadly, won’t be much help.

Going forward through Prison Simulator, you will be met with frustration after frustration, confusion after confusion. Why does the UI not react to button presses without repeated smashing? Why do the instructions not actually tell you what to do? Where is the prisoner list? What’s going on?

Any game that manages to make you ask questions out loud in frustration is clearly one that needs work. Prison Simulator is no exception; at pretty much every point in the game you feel confused, irritated and overall annoyed.

Prison Simulator is no exception; at pretty much every point in the game you feel confused, irritated and overall annoyed.

The developers have managed to mimic a very popular game trope in Prison simulators, but have also managed to completely bungle it.

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Prison Simulator serves as an interesting example of what happens when you mimic an established series with well thought out game mechanics, but fail to devout enough time towards considering actual gameplay. The core mistakes in Prison Simulator lie in the failed implementation of actual gameplay. There is clear design intent with taking in prisoners, getting them to work together and make you money, all the while attempting to rehabilitate them.

However, that doesn’t really work when it’s not entirely clear how prisoners work together, how you can correctly impact income or what you’re supposed to do while waiting for money to tick over. Far too frequently when playing Prison Simulator, you will find yourself dragging a prisoner forcefully away from a poor beaten victim, only to find them beating up someone else. To call a guard seemingly requires cash.

But don’t worry, you can pay real world money and get a huge boost of cash and make everything easier!

But don’t worry, you can pay real world money and get a huge boost of cash and make everything easier!

What’s upsetting is that the idea of a funny, Tropico style prison simulator with lots of humorous jokes about prisoner abuse – mixed with the rampant corruption inherent in the private prison system – could have been amazing to play. A simple, addictive mobile game, maybe in the style of an idler, with plenty of great humor and adventures could have been something to really attract players and keep them interested.

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Unfortunately, all’s we get is a rather unfinished, clumsily handled, unfunny prison game that isn’t quite sure what game style it wants to steal from. Does it want to be funny or serious, based around corruption or correct prison management?

Maybe next time we’ll get that fabled combination of perfect games?

Until then, sadly, we are disappointed.

Prison Simulator
Developer: Appscraft
Price: Free+
The Prison Simulator
Developer: appscraft
Price: Free+
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