Thursday, June 8, 2023

Games like Prison Architect – 2018’s Best Alternatives

What is Prison Architect?

Prison Architect is a top-down 2D construction and management game that takes place inside of your very own private prison. The player acts as the architect and oversees all production within the facility. You are able to control a number of units including prison inmates, prison guards, workers and even the warden. You are also in control over the prison itself and you must set up all kinds of obstacles within the prison including jail cells, placement of furniture, execution chamber for the truly awful inmates, a guard room to keep your guards safe from the chaos and more. It is also your job to keep the prison inmates generally happy so that you may keep the peace.

A unique aspect about Prison Architect that separates it from most games of this genre is that you can swap modes at any time and play as the prisoner! What you do as a prisoner is completely up to you as you can start riots to disrupt the workflow, dig tunnels in your cell and even attempt a prison break.

Development for the game started in 2012 and was released on Steam Greenlight after only a few months. During the alpha phase of the game, people were allowed to purchase the game at a discount so that the developers can dedicate all of their time working on the game. Upon the release of the alpha version, Prison Architect encountered a tremendous amount of success and after just a year, the developers had raised more than $8 million.

The game continued production all throughout 2013, 2014 and by October 2015 Prison Architect was completely finished and version 1.0 was finally released. Reception for the game has been very strong and just recently it was announced that Prison Architect would be ported over to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and all mobile devices.

Top Five Games like Prison Architect – 2018 Update

#5 – Craft the World (PC)


If you’re looking for a more fantasy-styled version of Prison Architect then you should definitely check out Craft the World. The game takes place on a remote planet filled with all types of creatures you would expect to find if you were reading a Lords of the Rings book. You start the game by choosing which difficulty you want to endure. The smaller the world, the easier the game is. Over time you’re able to unlock larger worlds but with more room comes more difficulty. At first you only have a single dwarf in your arsenal that comes equipped with the most basic of armor and not a whole lot of experience.

In order to become successful in Craft the World you need to have diligence, patience and smarts. The first night will be the most barren as you must rely on your sole dwarf to start construction on his first home. The safe thing to do is start digging southwards into the dirt straight away so the zombies and goblins that you’ll surely come across will not be able to ambush you. There are a few monsters underground but for the most part they won’t be a problem for you. After finishing your first base you should start to venture out into the world and do some fighting to acquire food and chop down some lumber. Over time you’ll start to become a lot more successful and you’ll become more familiar with the game. The more you do in the game, the more experience you’ll acquire. And the more experience you’ve acquired, the more dwarves will be added to your miniaturized army.

Outside of constructing their home you’ll need to keep your dwarves healthy at all times. Mining, lumbering and fighting is tough work so be sure to keep stacks of food and plenty of beds available for the dwarves to eat and rest. Without doing this your dwarves will become grouchy and susceptible to goblin attacks. Other fun activities include cooking, fishing and exploring!

Craft the World is such a unique and beautiful game that you won’t be able to help but fall in love with its charm. It takes inspiration from other building games like Terraria and Dwarf Fortress but if you’re a fan of Prison Architect then you will absolutely be a fan of Craft the World.

#4 – Minecraft (PC, Xbox One)


Minecraft is without a doubt one of the most popular games in gaming history. There is something about the game that is charming to both a younger and the older crowd of gamers. It’s pure imagination and creativity as the player themselves are in charge of everything. Development for Minecraft started in early 2009 and by the time it was May of the same year, the alpha version of the game was ready to be released. It was during this time that Minecrafts popularity would start to give rise as its success in its early stages would allow lead developer Markus “Notch” Persson to start his very own gaming company.

The overall goal of Minecraft depends greatly on what you’re trying to accomplish. Most people choose to play in Survival Mode which forces the player to build their own encampment out of wood or stone. They must then continue surviving the harsh environment by foraging for food and withstanding hordes of zombie invaders. There is also Creative Mode which has the player focusing solely on construction. Many people play Minecraft because they just want to build and not worry about monsters so this version is for them. There are a few more modes including Peaceful, Adventure, Spectator which allows the player to fly around and Hardcore Mode which is similar to Survival Mode but introduces permanent death.

Development for Minecraft would continue all throughout 2009 and 2010 and in November of 2011 it would finally exit the beta version and enter its official release. Since then it has gone on to sell millions of copies on several different platforms. Minecraft has become very prominent in nerd culture with lots of merchandise related to the franchise, as well as an official event called MineCon where Minecraft fans from all over the world can meet up and discuss the game with the lead developers.

#3 – Dungeons II (PC)


Dungeons II is a sequel to the popular Dungeons franchise although it’s more similar to the familiar Dungeon Keeper series. Dungeons II takes the classic building and controlling units concept and applies it to a setting filled with dungeons and demons. You are in complete control over a set of demons and other minions who help contribute to the production of your dungeon. Within the games lore you play as the Hand of Terror – a large hand that demands perfection from your minions. Dungeons II essentially has two modes within the game that the player is allowed to partake in.

Dungeon Mode – The main draw to the game. Inside each dungeon is where the majority of your minions reside. You are able to give commands to each minion which varies on what exactly you need done. For the most part they help expand your dungeon and find exists which lead to the outdoors. You can also collect gold and mana and save up inside your treasury.

Each minion has their own name and their own personality. You must keep your minions occupied or else they will get bored. You must also keep them hydrated and pay them with gold for their work. Rather than giving them food and water you give them beer which I find oddly fitting.

Overworld Mode – Overworld Mode is when you are able to collect your dungeon to the outside world. After finding an exit you can send out minions to fight your way to victory by overtaking castles. This plays more like an RTS game where your minions use their abilities to destroy the heroes’ holdings.

Dungeons II is without a doubt a worthy successor to the original Dungeons game. It released in 2015 and since then has had a few DLC packs that improve the overall gameplay of the game.

#2 – RimWorld (PC)


RimWorld is an incredibly detailed space expansion and management video game. It starts out with the player being in control of a spaceship that is travelling around the galaxy with a crew filled with a diverse set of people. The spaceship winds up crashing on a planet and it’s up to you to figure out which area would be best to set up camp. Your choices include: a frozen tundra, a dry desert or an infested jungle. You also get a choice of who your AI Storyteller should be. The game isn’t revolved around winning or losing but in fact it’s based on telling an interesting story. There are three AI choices you can make and their names are: Randy Random, Phoebe Chillax and Cassandra Classic. Depending on which of these characters you choose, the amount of difficulty of the game will shift. These AI characters are rather intelligent and will occasionally throw you in for a loop by adding events into the game. Things like weather shifts, invasions by other colonists, among other things.

RimWorld takes inspiration from the cult classic game Dwarf Fortress. If you don’t know, Dwarf Fortress is a very detailed game in which every character has their own unique personality traits. RimWorld mimics that brilliantly and includes a wide variety of different personality traits that will make each character stand out. You start out with only a few colonists but over time you’re able to acquire new ones and if your social skills are good enough you can even capture refugees and convince them to join your motley crew.

Other things you can do within the game include fighting off diseases, defending your crew from space pirates, observe your crew’s mental health, go trekking for mineral resources and plants and even taming animals. There are a few random animals you can encounter on your planet and if you’re quick enough you can tame and take care of a pet.

But the main worry you have is of course surviving. You’re on a mostly vacant planet and it’s up to you to keep your crew alive, healthy and sane enough to escape the planet. You’ll need to set up a variety of objects like solar panels to hone electricity and create your own botanical garden for food.

Currently, RimWorld is still in its alpha phase however it’s still available to purchase from the official website and you can get to playing immediately.

#1 – Tropico 5 (PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4)


Tropico 5 is a democratic management and construction game that takes place throughout various eras of Earth’s history. It is the fifth installment of the popular Tropico series and during development of the game, the developers decided to completely overhaul the basic features within the franchise, essentially making Tropico 5 the ultimate edition of the series.

The plot of the game revolves around the player living on an island and assumes command of said island as ‘El Presidente’. The game works like any other democracy does and you must also keep your populace happy. If any of the inhabitants become unhappy with your ruling they are able to storm your palace and overthrow you. The main goal is to continue staying in power which isn’t very difficult if you do what the natives want. You could also choose to play the game completely different and choose to ignore your people and rule the island as a dictatorship with intimidation and manipulation. It can go either way which is one of the more brilliant aspects of the game.

Overall the game is a pretty standard democracy game so if you are interested in politics and learning a bit of history, you should definitely check out the Tropico franchise. The series originally began back in 2001 with the first Tropico game and since then has spawned several sequels and expansions. The main reason I chose to discuss the fifth entry is because it’s the most recent and also includes a wide variety of eras.

That does it for the top five games like Prison Architect. If you’re a fan of that series might I also suggest checking out the television show Prison Break. It aired back in 2005 and ended after four seasons. But just recently a new season got green lite featuring the original cast.

What is your favorite management and construction game? Let me know in the comments below!

David Stewart
I really enjoy learning anything I can about a wide variety of subjects. Other hobbies include playing League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and just generally staying current in the going-ons of todays world, from politics to gaming news.


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