Prison Architect: Psych Ward DLC Review
Building on the success of their main game Introversion Software and Double Eleven have released a DLC introducing the criminally insane, as well as psychopathic inmates into their prison environment. As you might imagine, this comes with a whole bunch of complications and adds not only content to the base game of Prison Architect, but also a completely different dynamic.
As I mentioned in my original review of Prison Architect, I am not the biggest fan of simulation games, however, the premise and overall gameplay of Prison Architect is more interesting in nature than most. I’ll be honest, after playing this for the first time in quite a while, I found it a bit confusing. I had forgotten just how complicated the game is, and how many different menus and options are available! Once I got back into the groove, however, I found that this Psych Ward DLC is a welcome addition to the base game, adding so much more entertainment to a simulation game that already goes above and beyond its genre.
“Introversion Software and Double Eleven do a great job showing that simulation games do not have to be boring or mindless, and that they can be home to creativity, variety, and if you’re feeling up to it, absolute chaos!”
The Psych Ward DLC adds the criminally insane, meaning that as the warden of the prison players will have to take these traits into consideration. Of course, that’s only if you decide to include them when setting up your prison since you are the one who gets to choose after all. On top of this, you will have to direct a new staff member: psychiatric staff, to try and help calm these individuals down. The new wardens add a bit more variety to the choices already available, and depending on what type of player you are, you might want to pick Hawk Hartman to increase guard performance. He makes sure that they drop their key cards less and they have increased stamina in the case of an emergency situation.
It’s nice that although this is a DLC, you get to choose whether to add these aspects into your prison. If you decide to start anew, you will be able to decide whether you want to have the criminally insane added to it and whether you want to change other game preferences. As Prison Architect is one full of various decisions it only makes sense that we would get the opportunity to choose whether to include something that drastically changes the intensity of the game. Probably my favourite part of the DLC is the new game preference Breakout that allows for prisoners to escape more often. As if prison isn’t chaotic enough, this makes it even more so. Depending on whether you have failure conditions on or not, this ups the ante, and if you can handle it, you might just get to keep your job. Don’t worry too much though, because if you feel like you can’t quite keep up with the needs of the prison, you’re definitely playing it right!
“Despite the small issues I encountered with this Psych Ward DLC, it plays very well and adds both replayability and enjoyability to a game already far above its genre.”
Unfortunately the same problem I was encountering when trying to zoom in and out, while playing the base game, still remains. Although practice makes perfect with Prison Architect, there is now, even more, complexity than ever before. While this adds a bit of replayability to the game, if you were struggling to learn all of the game controls and mechanics before the DLC, you will likely find it even more difficult to master.
I’m going to be honest, and it could just be my criminal justice background talking here, but I found it rather unfortunate that Introversion Software and Double Eleven branded the craziest and most volatile inmates as psychopaths. While these individuals lack conscience and empathy, and are usually quite manipulative, most are not criminal. And more often than not, they don’t even fit into the crazy category. I’m not sure if it was an oversight by the studio in terms of accuracy or if it was intentional. Either way, it doesn’t take much away from the game however, I am left questioning whether it might have been better to have the criminally savvy as a part of the DLC instead of the extremely crazy individuals branded as a psychopath. I know, I know…it’s a game, and as such it definitely is entertaining, but it would be nice to get that terminology right!
Despite the small issues I encountered with this Psych Ward DLC, it plays very well and adds both replayability and enjoyability to a game already far above its genre. Introversion Software and Double Eleven do a great job showing that simulation games do not have to be boring or mindless, and that they can be home to creativity, variety, and if you’re feeling up to it, absolute chaos!
*** Xbox One code provided by the publisher ***
- Adds a different dynamic
- Lots of additional content
- Increases chaos and fun
- Lack of accuracy with characters
- Small issues remain