Prison Architect: Psych Ward Review

Oh, the hours I've sunk into this one! Prison Architect was always a mixture of extremely cute graphics and horrific real life scenarios--and it was only about to get that much better with the new DLC: Psych Ward: Warden's Edition.

Admittedly, it had been quite the minute since I last hung up my guard keys. If you've played the base Prison Architect game, you'll remember it for some notable features--one being it's not as simple as it seems. The options and detail that Prison Architect provides allows you to shape the prisoners' time in the hole are many, influencing it as much as you can without actually controlling the minds of your incarcerated population. Along the way there's all sorts of dynamic challenges to face outside of resource management: gangs, escapes, riots, and every type of common shanking that might occur. The chaotic mess of trying to orchestrate some civility within those cold walls (of course whilst making bank-a-head), might surprisingly grow stale after a while. After building a self-sustaining super prison, there might be a sinking feeling you've hit a plateau, bringing us to introduce Psych Ward.

Adding a new population of the 'criminally insane', these prisoners are in for some hard time. A bit of a mixture on the actual convictions themselves--anything from murder to trafficking will show, but the spin is personality issues mixed in. You'll have people that pop off with the slightest thing going wrong; a violence multiplier that really sets the bomb ticking. Guards tend to make things worse as well which makes swapping them out for a healthy amount of orderlies a great idea. Plus, at the end of the day orderlies are needed to fit those straight jackets. ...For everybody's safety.

What works on the general population changes with the criminally insane: solitary confinement means nothing to a large part of these individuals. You also should think twice about mixing in with general population--as with snitches and ex-law enforcement, things can get a tad volatile with our mentally fragile folk, and instead of the classic 'snitches get stitches', the victim(s) might be reversed with a good lot of this new edition having nothing to lose. They still eat, sleep, visit and work in the same way, but keeping an extra eye on this (hopefully) separated population can make Prison Architect exciting again.

A large part of the criminally insane treatment is getting them in for some therapy sessions. Your bank statement will probably end up with many leather sofas on it with the welcomed addition of psychiatrists. As mentioned before, orderlies are now a thing--a very important thing, and will help keep everything under control. These prisoners do have release and parole dates, so it's important to get them (somewhat) fit for society again.

The one place eyes tend to travel to in playing Prison Architect is no doubt the danger level meter within your prison. On top of having to keep a little beady on that, each criminally insane prisoner has a little danger meter of their own--you can watch individuals get more and more irritated as their fuses burn a bit shorter. Reducing their stress levels benefits everyone and adds something extra and fun to the management overall.

What I enjoy about this Prison Architect DLC is how it tends to be like Sims DLCs--the content offered includes more STUFF on top of shifting the gameplay to inject new life. New tiles and objects to really expand the creativity involved in making these structures, new contraband to really up the dangerously interesting shakedowns, and new staff really take it to the next level. Retailing for £4.79, it's more than worth the new content, especially if you love or have ever loved playing Prison Architect. I do hope they release more DLC sets like this, and you know, maybe adding guard whippets in there.

DLC that has a hearty recommend from me--Prison Architech's Psych Ward will liven things if they've fallen dull, and provide a new challenge in managing your prison that will certainly suck you in for more hours to come. Reasonably priced at £4.79 as well--don't miss out on this DLC if you're a fan!