Prison Architect 2: An Upcoming Indie Everyone Should Know About

From powerwash simulators, truck simulators, farming simulators, and cooking simulators to entire life simulators like The Sims, people are obsessed with simulation games. While a prison simulator might not fit into any of these popular subcategories, the upcoming indie title Prison Architect 2 definitely knows what audience it’s marketing to. With shows like Orange Is the New Black and Love After Lockup, movies like The Shawshank Redemption, and a plethora of true crime content out there, it’s obvious that the concept and world of prison and crime hold a deep curiosity and interest for many.

If you’re one of those people and have ever wanted to know what it’s like to run your very own prison, Prison Architect 2 puts you in control over a fully functioning penitentiary. The first installment of the franchise was released in 2015 by Paradox Interactive, a Swedish video game publisher known for its themed strategy games and RPGs.

What Is Prison Architect About?

Prison Architect puts you in the big shoes of a prison warden and architect, which means you’ve got a lot to handle. You’re responsible for making sure the prison is generating money, the prisoners are treated fairly, the building facilities are well-maintained, and the other prison staff are doing their jobs. It’s incredibly detailed, and every detail counts; once you begin expanding the prison and house more prisoners, the game can get very demanding and even quite chaotic. While the first Prison Architect went for a more cartoon art style, the second game is now offered in 3D.

Who’s It For?

If you categorize yourself as a fan of all things strategy RPG and building (think Mount & Blade II, Zoo Tycoon, Cities: Skylines, and Dwarf Fortress), you’ll love Prison Architect. There’s the creative freedom to build your prison exactly how you want it with different layouts and run it exactly how you want to with different perks and styles of play. 

There’s also that fun management aspect that keeps you on your toes and forces you to think about strategy and problem-solving. The game is also suitable for those fascinated by the inner workings of prison and want realistic challenges and dilemmas from the POV of a warden and an overall opportunity to simulate day-to-day operations.

What Is the Gameplay in Prison Architect 1 Like?

The kicker of Prison Architect was that when you started up the game, you were thrust right into the gameplay and were met with an overwhelming amount of challenges to handle. But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it made for an immersive and arguably realistic simulation of real-life prison management. In 3D, who knows what that will be like?

All players start by building the actual prison, either from scratch, by browsing the “World of Wardens” library of other players’ creations or using a pre-built option. Then, you play with all the settings that will determine how your game runs. Would you set your budget to unlimited or go for a more modest sum to challenge yourself? There are also other parameters, as well as the ability to choose the type of approach you’ll run your prison with. You even get to organize a schedule for when things happen – showers, patrols, visitation, and medical visits – and even set your policies and punishments. 


Let’s just say the life of a prison warden in Prison Architect is never dull. You might have a famous prisoner transferred to your prison or have to deal with death, gangs, or disasters like unexpected fires – the happenings are endless and can pop up when you least expect it. Overall, there are four main aspects to the game: administration, construction, personnel management, and prisoner management. The administrative aspect concerns bureaucracy, logistics, and a variety of prisoner programs you can offer (carpentry, drug and alcohol therapy, and even death row appeal, to name a few). Tackling prisoner-related issues means dealing with execution, escapes, contraband, and gangs, while personnel involves going as granular as stocking bleach in the cleaning cupboard and placing drains in the right places.


Apart from the campaign mode, which essentially refers to the main “story,” there’s also Escape Mode, where you switch roles and control a prisoner who’s trying to escape (Prison Break, anyone?). It’s an extra experience you can find in the Extras section or one that automatically kickstarts if you allow too many deaths in a certain amount of time in your main gameplay. This seems like a welcome addition to the sandbox mode, as you can play as a prisoner in just about any prison you want – self-created or user-created.

What’s on the Horizon for Prison Architect 2?

The verdict for Prison Architect 1? Guilty – for being so incredibly addicting. Just like shows like Money Heist and games like A Way Out can be as addictive as plenty of well-known slot sites in Canada, Prison Architect will keep you coming back for more. On Steam, the game has a “Very Positive” rating of 90% from 55,593 user reviews (as of June 2024), which gives fans high hopes for Prison Architect 2. Unfortunately, the release has been delayed from May to September 2024, but the updates are looking promising. From what’s circulating online, there seems to be the introduction of a K9 unit, potentially deeper relationships between inmates and staff, and a fresh new world map in Career Mode. Although many are skeptical about the switch to 3D, the fact that the original Prison Architect was beloved enough to warrant a Prison Architect 2 speaks volumes.