Prison Tycoon: Under New Management:Locked Away For A Decade

It has been over a decade since we have been blessed with the classic management game which is Prison Tycoon. Abylight Studios and Ziggurat teamed up to finally bring the franchise back, with their rendition of the franchise with Prison Tycoon:Under New Management.

While the years have passed and the franchise needed a reboot, there has been a complete overhaul to the feel of the game of days past. It is now quirky, colourful and feels more light-hearted, compare that to the more serious notes of the last renditions of the franchise.

Prison Tycoon: Under New Management feels like a completely new game, Even though it is a building and management simulator, the game feels like it has the feel of a life sim thrown in now as one of the main aspects. Don’t think of the gameplay like Prison Architect, think along the lines of The Sims or Two Point Hospital. You will run a prison trying to make it as successful as possible, while rehabilitating the prisoners before they can be safely released.

" More Buildings, More Profit "

Building up your prison is going to be key if you want to be successful. When it comes to starting your first prison you can choose five different biomes, other than the first location each has its own advantage and disadvantage. For instance, In the desert biome the perk you gain means your prisoners can not catch the cold, while the disadvantage is water and medicine resources are a lot more expensive. This makes for a more difficult time if you are wanting an added challenge, other than that inside the walls won’t change the look; however it does change the backdrop and music depending on the biome you selected.

The premise of the game is simple, you will build up your prison from the ground up, slowly adding everything you need into the prison. There are multiple different room types for you to add into your prison like prison cells,dining rooms, entertainment, visitation  etc. You will also be in charge of making sure you have enough staff to cover all the different rooms, and guards to catch those pesky little escape artists.

The building in the game is where it really is lacking, they have simplified it so much that all your prisons will be the same. You can only place a “common room” this is your main shell, and you can only insert predefined rooms that need to be a certain size or you can not place it down.Coupled  with the fact that it needs to be in these shell-like outer areas makes for a dull

" Can’t Get Creative Juices Flowing"

time creative wise, I could not even add interior walls myself or make corridors I was severely limited in my layout of the rooms and in fact the whole prison. If  could maybe just be able to create any room, any size and just “zone” that area for the purpose I need, I would have been more free.

When it comes to the electricity and water resources your prison will need to run, they take the approach that these can be bought as a package, and each room takes up a certain amount of electricity or water to run, thereby depleting your resource. I like this approach because it feels like you have to pay the state for the use of the water and electricity. I found while this was a cool way to do it you will soon notice that it just is not sustainable enough, and you will have to produce your own with the items provided.

" The Hard Prison Life "

The game’s core concept is for you to rehabilitate as many prisoners as possible as this is your best source of income.To achieve this goal you will need to make sure your prisoners are well maintained in every department to keep them happy. If they are too cold make sure to buy some heaters, if they are hungry make sure to have more food handy. The list goes on of needs you must meet for your prisoners to have a happy prison life.

To truly make sure they are ready for the world you must make sure they are rehabilitated through their therapy. You can feel there is a heavy focus on this here, as you will come across lots of different therapy rooms. They have them all covered ranging from your sit-on a coach therapy, art therapy, music therapy heck they even VR therapy. You will need to make sure to pick up all these, as each prisoner will have a different disorder which needs the appropriate therapy to rehabilitate them faster. As you build up your prison, you will unlock prestige points for each room, decor item you place and this is key, as it will unlock more stuff that you will need to make sure your prison is the best it can be.

If you are struggling with income instead of a story mode or tutorial, they have gone with a “grant” system, where you will be rewarded for doing numerous different challenges, you can use these approaches anyway you like but in my playthrough I earned them naturally without paying too much attention to them. If you feel like being corporate you can always go for a loan but these will be repaid back with a set amount of interest so it is best not if you do not feed them greedy banks and loan companies.

"Managing Prisons Can Be Fun "

When it comes down to it, Prison Tycoon: Under New Management, simplifies the game into a mediocre one with too much emphasis on the prisoners themselves, and not enough focus on the enjoyment people will get from actually designing the prisons differently. They could have gone with a more fun way to design the prisons instead of plopping down predefined rooms. The approach they did take however, can be charming yet chaotic at the same time. The art direction they took only adds to the appeal with this cartoon look; it adds a light-hearted feel to prison life.

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Review
  • A Reboot That Has Been Caged
    7

    " Prison Tycoon , Is a game we all wanted a reboot of for so long. The developers took a different approach this time adding a light-hearted comedic vibe with cartoonish characters. While a nice vibe the mechanics of building and managing is lacking in this game, Which is a shame because this is one of my beloved franchises.

    • Gameplay
      7
    • Features
      7
    • Art Direction
      7
    • Concept
      8
Game Details
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