I thought I was done writing about Prison Architect [official site] updates when Introversion announced that the prison management sim would leave early access on October 6th. Yet here I am again, because at this weekend’s EGX, Chris Delay and Mark Morris demoed some of the features that will be new to v1.0 – including a new escape mode.
Escape mode “turns Prison Architect on its head” by giving you control of a single prisoner and challenging you to escape, rather than maintain and expand, the prison that contains you. This doesn’t involve adding lots new features, but instead giving you a new perspective on which to view the already existing systems.
For example, causing trouble in the prison gives you reputation points, which you can then use to unlock traits for your character. These are the same traits that prisoners normally arrive with when they come to your prison in the main game. If you choose to unlock the Deadly trait, then your punches will occasionally kill others in a single hit. If you unlock the Instigator trait, you can convince other prisoners to follow you, form a posse that makes you better able to cause trouble, and then control and upgrade those other prisoners just as you do yourself.
The contraband system also naturally players a role, but instead of being a nuisance you need to contain as the prison administrator, you’re the one stealing from the jail’s workshops and cleaning cupboards. If you get a wooden pickaxe from the former, for example, you can use it to dig a secret tunnel out of your cell.
The most exciting part of this however is that the prisons you’re escaping from are the same as those you build, which means you can put your own jails to the test or play the mode on any of the 12,000 user-made prisons that have been uploaded to the Steam Workshop. Not all will be an ideal fit of course, but it’d be exciting to try.
After years of comparing Prison Architect to Dwarf Fortress, the game finally has its own equivalent of DF’s Adventure mode. You can watch Chris Delay and Mark Morris play the mode on stage below.