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Prison Architect adds online multiplayer as an opt-in alpha feature

Imagine the hell that is an eight-warden prison

As grim as its subject matter may be, Introversion's carceral management sim Prison Architect has carved out an oddly social niche as a game to play while streaming and chatting with friends. Today, those building brutalist monuments to man's inhumanity to man can finally share the experience with chums, thanks to a public alpha test for multiplayer.

Expect bugs and a few features locked away, but if you feel like sharing the warden's hat with your pals, check out the patch notes here with info on how to join the alpha testers. You can also watch Introversion (awkwardly) demoing the new mode in the update video below.

At present, Prison Architect's online multiplayer is limited to the regular sandbox mode of the game, with up to eight players. No warden versus escapees yet, but I'm hoping that's on the cards for future updates. While the host player will have access to everything, a few menus and features are currently inaccessible for client players, although Introversion say they're working on delivering the full-fat experience to all. At the moment, players share construction duties, and - as the video below shows - the option to doodle silly pictures on your pal's carefully constructed blueprints.

For those who aren't interested in multiplayer, update 16 adds a few new tools to dissuade escape attempts. While not mentioned in the patch notes, the update video above mentions barbed wire, which you can place on walls and fences to make tree-climbing felons more likely to stick within your walls. They acknowledge that the better option is just cutting down all trees within your prison, dehumanising it further.

There's also heavy steel anti-traffic barriers that you can activate in an emergency to seal off the road-route into and out of your facility. While Introversion were coy about the details, it sounds like prisoners can steal vehicles if left unattended near the road. Run! Be free, tiny little prisoners!

Prison Architect update 16 is out now, although multiplayer requires opting into on Steam, as detailed here - right now it's for the Steam Mac and Windows versions, with Linux and other storefronts coming later.

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