Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Oct 17, 2015
    Playing will probably mean thinking about issues that you probably didn’t think about. This is something that should be valued in a videogame. I’m as content as the next guy to mindlessly shoot a hundred dudes in a Call of Duty. But I also value games that make me think about something I wasn’t thinking about yesterday. Games that make me feel a way I don’t usually feel. Games that aren’t afraid to present complex subjects in all their complexity, wrangling gameplay into a thought-provoking exercise that is both entertainment and edification. Games like Prison Architect.
  2. Oct 9, 2015
    Once you’re in, you will – unlike many of my own early inmates – find it very difficult to escape.
  3. Oct 7, 2015
    Prison Architect is a triumphant simulator that almost perfectly captures the world of prison building and administration.
  4. Oct 8, 2015
    Prison Architect is arguably one of the most important and disturbing games I’ve ever played.
  5. Nov 4, 2015
    PA is an entertaining, comprehensive and accessible simulator of prison complex management. If you find this genre at least a little bit interesting, don’t hesitate buying it.
  6. Oct 15, 2015
    After five years of development, Introversion Software brings us an amazing game where we can build and manage a maximum security prison.
  7. Oct 6, 2015
    Prison Architect is one of the more unique game releases in years. What would seem daunting at first, with building and managing a prison, quickly reveals to be both an addictive and entertaining gameplay experience.
  8. Oct 15, 2015
    A complex, challenging, and grimly satisfying simulator.
  9. Oct 8, 2015
    Plan, build, fail, sell and try again. Behind the functional graphics of Prison Architect there's a complex, motivating and very good prison simulation.
  10. Nov 30, 2015
    An excellent management simulation that will be a shining example of this genre for years to come.
  11. Nov 17, 2015
    In many ways, Prison Architect feels like the ‘Theme Prison’ game from Bullfrog’s golden years that we never actually got.
  12. Oct 20, 2015
    Prison Architect is simply one of the very best management games on sale at the moment.
  13. Oct 7, 2015
    It’s a unique sandbox game that has all the necessary ingredients to hook you, if you let it.
  14. Oct 16, 2015
    Not only did it successfully complete the early access phase, but it came out as a great gestional experience, set in an unusual environment. If you like the genre, you should really consider this one.
  15. Oct 15, 2015
    When we played Prison Architect for the first time, we could hardly keep our hands off it. Once you started playing it, you can't stop. The quests are challenging and interchangeably, which keeps you busy the whole time. The charming Comic-Look gives no indication of how complex and earnest Prison Architect actually is.
  16. Oct 6, 2015
    After a poorly handled start, Prison Architect becomes one of the most in-depth, satisfying builder games in a long time.
  17. Nov 27, 2015
    Complex, but easily accessible prison builder with an interesting campaign structure, but also a few bugs here and there, while the micro management can get out of hand sometimes.
  18. Game World Navigator Magazine
    Nov 11, 2015
    A rare gem that was polished to near-perfection during its time in Steam’s Early Access. [Issue#203, p.87]
  19. CD-Action
    Mar 30, 2016
    A surprisingly complex and enjoyable simulation of a correctional facility. [03/2016, p.64]
  20. Jan 19, 2016
    Prison Architect's genius is in translating a real-world debate into video game terms, forcing players to make tough choices with no good solutions.
  21. Edge Magazine
    Dec 12, 2015
    Learn its quirks, however, and Prison Architect's sandbox permits a dizzying breadth of options for establishing for-profit penal facilities. [Christmas 2015, p.120]
  22. Nov 30, 2015
    As I end this review, I'm reminded of a phrase attributed to Oscar Wilde: "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy." That sentence perfectly describes Prison Architect—as it is with many sims like it, it's growth for the sake of growth, and when I was done with the game and had my prison and had every little detail perfectly in place, I let it burn to the ground again.
  23. Nov 5, 2015
    It was worth the wait - Prison Architect is a solid, engaging game with enormous number of options, presented in a well-thought-out way. Managing a virtual prison has never been so enjoyable.
  24. Oct 20, 2015
    Prison Architect is a genuinely fun game that makes you think in unexpected ways. Apart from some slight campaign fatigue and an Escape Mode with plenty of potential but poor execution, it’s hard to put it down.
  25. Oct 15, 2015
    The game doesn’t judge you for the type of warden you choose to be.
  26. Oct 14, 2015
    A great simulation game that recalls the glory days of Theme Hospital et al. Although at times it almost feels like a psychology study of the player rather than the inmates.
  27. Oct 13, 2015
    Although it is weighed down by some questionable development choices, Prison Architect is a break-out success due to its sandbox alone.
  28. Oct 12, 2015
    Prison Architect has a very weak single player campaign and is plagued with minor issues. But even if we don't forget about these things this game is one of the best tycoons in recent years. It has an excellent sandbox mode, good AI, is very complex, offers lots of possibilities and can make you forget about time passing by.
  29. Oct 8, 2015
    Prison Architect is an incredibly detail-oriented game that’s an easy pick for fans of the genre. While the level of detail and difficulty may push away outsiders looking to test the waters, it’s not an insurmountable feat.
  30. Oct 7, 2015
    If you’re a die-hard strategy fan looking for something different, or if you thought Theme Hospital was fun but lacked shivving and power drill-wielding inmates, then this game is definitely worth a look.
  31. Oct 6, 2015
    Even if Prison Architect didn’t come with a thought provoking, if short, campaign, it’d be easy to recommend to anyone with an interest in management sims. That addition not only brings some depth to the game, but it also serves as one of the most enjoyable and comprehensive tutorials I’ve ever played in a game.
  32. Oct 6, 2015
    Despite its rough edges, Prison Architect provides enough depth and customization to make it compelling. Every riot, escape attempt, and execution brings you a step closer to building the perfect prison – all accompanied by the amusing (and sometimes horrifying) moments that emerge naturally in any good simulation.
  33. Games Master UK
    Dec 1, 2015
    A world of grim opportunity - but you need to suffer before earning the glory of your own Alcatraz. [Dec 2015, p.79]
  34. Oct 22, 2015
    Even though Prison Architect has its share of flaws and limitations, it’s still a fun experience I’m sure fans of the genre will enjoy.
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  1. Even if it doesn’t fully satisfy my desire for followable characters, it is still an excellent story-making game.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 293 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 17 out of 293
  1. Oct 31, 2013
    It's a 9 on alpha and very likely to hit 10 when it's finished.
    (Almost) anything is possible. From the hole with forced labor and solitary
    It's a 9 on alpha and very likely to hit 10 when it's finished.
    (Almost) anything is possible. From the hole with forced labor and solitary confinement just for harassment and lots of beating to the human-rights-activists-utopia-penal-spa that will make your prisoners eager to kill someone as soon as they're released just to be allowed back in.

    Unlike what other reviews said, I didn't have any problems playing the game. The prisoners will try to escape if they're not happy and will riot if their condition makes it look worth getting beat up for a chance on escaping. That's what prisoners do. They smuggle stuff, they dig tunnels, they fight... they're not highly-educated and moralist citizens in a hotel. They want to get out. If things are really bad they'll die trying.

    But the alpha and the "early access" aren't just for show. The game is still under development and they make it very clear that they're focusing on new content rather than bug fixing. You'll notice lots of useless features (that will mention that they're useless in this alpha build). You'll have prisons stop working after monthly new release. The cool glitches you exploited may be fixed while the bugs that annoyed you are still there.

    It's really expensive. But it's fun enough to make it worth.

    If you have no problems with paying lots of money for the alpha early access, it's a good purchase. But you can always wait until the development is done and hope for price to go down or a cool sale to make it less expensive.
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 1, 2013
    Bought on sale for $17.99 in the alpha stages. I understand exactly what buying in the alpha means, and I wasn't expecting a polished or evenBought on sale for $17.99 in the alpha stages. I understand exactly what buying in the alpha means, and I wasn't expecting a polished or even completed game of any sort. That being said, what I did not expect was not being able to play the game at all, as prisoners spend 24/7 trying to escape from the moment they entered (yes there was a double-fence around the entire compound with no cracks), or standing in their cells unresponsive to any schedule I set or orders I placed. Staff would stand there doing nothing, janitors wouldn't sweep no matter what I tried.

    I'm fine with bugs, and helping the devs find those bugs, but I was kinda hoping the game was playable for that price.

    Positives are it looks great, handles pretty nicely, and is very intuitive right up until it stops working.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 2, 2014
    If you're interested in this game, just buy it. It has workshop integration with an active modding community. Earlier tonight I changed theIf you're interested in this game, just buy it. It has workshop integration with an active modding community. Earlier tonight I changed the theme to star wars with a press of the button. This is a very addictive game where real time begins to speed by in a blur. 5 minutes becomes 5 hours and you only noticed because you need to use the restroom. There is a wonderful charm about it and the fat little characters. There is a lot of micromanagement so if you're the kind of person that hates to think, can't oil your brain because it hurts, well then you should pass. It's not overly complicated but the game doesn't hold your hand starting out. It's like bam build a prison. The only downside is struggling to figure out why things aren't being built, or populated. This may further confuse someone since it is alpha which makes it difficult to distinguish between a bug and something you aren't doing correctly. Other than that you should enjoy this game. Full Review »