Prison Architect 2 is more than a new 3D view | Hands-on preview

by on May 23, 2024

Prison Architect is one of those successful indies that spawned a handful of enjoyable DLCs to keep players coming back for more. One of the most obvious changes in Prison Architect 2 is obviously the switch from 2D to 3D, and while it clearly services the game better and provides more clarity and detail to the prisons you decide to build, the game as a whole just feels better. I got a chance to play a preview of some of the levels in Career mode, and once I was done seeing how different layouts and decisions effected the successful running of a prison, I couldn’t wait to start crafting my own fortress of solitude.

Most of the early missions see you complete some straightforward tasks like building a few cells, making them secure, hiring some gardeners and a warden, then welcoming your first prisoner. Another sees you building an entire wing to house ten new cells and a shower block, then fitting water pipes to make sure the criminals can both wash and pee. Slowly you’re introduced to the mechanics of what is ultimately going to benefit you when you enter sandbox mode and go crazy with your ideas.

The new 3D view isn’t just a plus to the visuals, but beneficial when crafting your prisons. Everything is clearer, and seeing your employees and inmates with a bit more detail makes it feel more real. The design and variety in construction options make for an interesting building process, and it’s much easier to see your prisons come to life. One of the coolest things about Prison Architect 2 is the ability to grow upwards instead of just outwards.

You can build multi-story prisons, which give you more options. Obviously, new challenges are presented for you to overcome, but it adds a dynamic that wasn’t there before. You need to be mindful when it comes to providing water and electricity, but the thought of building taller buildings to house the most dangerous of convicts is something I can’t wait to spend more time doing. There was a lot of handholding in the beginning of the Career mode, and while I didn’t get to be too creative, I’ve had a taste and just want to spend more time with it.

You can tell Prison Architect 2 is still in development as I encountered a few freezes and some AI issues where my construction workers just stopped working altogether. I’m not particularly worried as this kind of thing happens during the developmental phase. What I am excited to see is more of the career and learning every facet of construction, keeping inmates and the workforce happy, and making my prison the best it can be when I finally dive into sandbox with all the knowledge and tools I need to build something truly remarkable.

So far, Prison Architect 2 has a lot going for it. The change to 3D has benefitted it on more than an aesthetic level, but also a mechanical level. The multi-story construction is going to allow for more options when laying everything out, and I’m so excited to see where I can go with it and how it effects the running of my prison in the long run. It’s going to be one of those games I know I’ll spend plenty of time with, much like the original release, and I hope it lives up to the enjoyment of the preview.