That’s true. But to be honest, Prison Architect is not the only prison-related game we have at IndieGala. It’s the only one that’s currently on sale, but we have plenty of additional games that are worth checking out. The Escapists is also a good one, and so are the games from the Prison Tycoon franchise. Oh, and if you’re particularly in IndieGala’s review of The Escapists 2, then be my guest…. Just click here. Whatever you fancy, we’ve got it. But speaking of Prison Architect, I’ve never covered anything remotely similar…. Sure. I’ve written about criminals that end up in jail like Pablo Escobar, but nothing even remotely similar to Prison Break. So you can imagine my excitement, right?
But, What’s Prison Architect All About?
Developed by Introversion Software and published by Paradox Interactive, Prison Architect is an exciting strategy and prison simulator game. And in it, you’re hired by a CEO of a non-profit company to take control of the building and running a prison. Therefore the player’s role is of both architect and governor with sandbox micromanagement themes. He’s also responsible for managing various aspects of their prison including building facilities, connecting utilities, and managing staff.
But the game itself has two separate modes. First, the story mode in which the game opens with the story of Edward. A man facing the electric chair for committing a crime of passion. However, the second mode is the escape mode and I’m all about that. You can dig a tunnel with this mode, go for the armory or start a riot and slip out in the chaos. It’s entirely up to you! You’ll have to figure out how to escape from your creation or face the consequences.
To be honest, both modes remind me of Prison Break. Sure the escape part of the prison is in fact the main premise of Prison Break. But also, the firm he worked for (prior his incarceration) designed the Fox River State Prison. So, that’s the main reason why he had the blueprints of the actual prison. Don’t get me wrong… I love how the show portrays the brutal, and realistic prison life itself. Why? Because it’s probably the greatest piece of TV history. But not to get ahead of myself. Let’s start from the begining.
Prison Architect Led Me To Prison Break
Or is it the other way around? Truth be told, I started binging on Prison Break at the start of this month. I’ve basically watched every single one of my favorite TV shows, and I was getting bored. The new upcoming seasons of my favorites (The Haunting Of Bly Manor, Mom, The Mandalorian) are yet to be released. Raised by Wolves was not yet on-air, and I was getting anxious. So with lots of free time on my hand, Martin and I had to go back. Back in 2005, and the year of Prison Break. I know… What have I been doing in the past 15 years?
So with that in mind, I’m going to focus solely on the first season of Prison Break. Since we’ve just finished it and I’m yet to start with season 2. But how to best describe season 1? A near-perfect masterpiece will do it. I think it’s appropriate don’t you think? Yeah, I’d thought so.
The Closest Thing To A TV perfection
And I don’t think I’m exaggerating. I don’t really know how this TV show has escaped my radar all of these years, but better late than never I say. The casting, the writing, the setting and pretty much everything else are exceptional. But let me start from the top. The first season on Prison Break is solely focused on Michael Scofield (played by Wentworth Miller). Engineer and genius extraordinaire. He’s also the mastermind behind you’ve guessed it…The Prison Break. Relax. It’s not a spoiler people. The plot of the TV series in the title. Early in the pilot episode, Scofield will get himself intentionally incarcerated in the Fox River State Penitentiary.
His mission is to get his older brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) out of jail and therefore out of certain death. He’s been on death row for assassination of the VP’s brother, but there’s a much bigger story behind his story. There’s tense government conspiracy as well. Not to mention plenty of dirty games that the brothers have to go through. Corrupt and sadistic guards, and equally psychotic and sadistic inmates too. And his only guide through the ordeal is the giant upper body tattoo on Michael’s skin. But that’s just scratching the surface of Prison Break. The actual show goes much deeper, and it’s fascinating to watch.
Nuanced Plot, Tense Development and Good Characters
The fascinating thing about Prison Break is that every single one of the introduced characters is well developed, and rooted in reality. That rarely happens in the first season. Usually it takes a while for the characters to get a good development, but over here they’re intriguing from the get-go. Not just the main character, who seems like the smartest and the most educated of the bunch. Pretty much from all the low-life inmates are fascinating in their own way. And you are invested in their story all the time. You have good men who have taken a wrong turn and made some bad decisions. Inmates like C-Note and Tweener.
And then there are the vicious, sadistic, psychopathic criminals that are most likely serial offenders. Inmates like T-Bag. A „nice bunch of people“ right?. However, I must mention that I couldn’t bring myself to care about T-Bag. Sorry, I tried. I have zero patience and even less empathy for psychotic, racist, violent pedophiles/killers. So you can imagine that I hated his guts and wanted to punch his face in pretty much every scene that he was in. But a big portion of that hatred I can safely attribute to the excellent performance from Robert Knepper. So kudos to him and the writers for that. It’s not easy to create such a despicable character. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to get me to hate him so. And they’ve succeeded admirably from the pilot all the way to the last episode of Season 1.
The Correctional Officers Are Not Any Better Either
If you thought that the inmates in Prison Break are colorful, then you should be very beware of the guards. The CO’s. And while some of them are portrayed in a more positive light, some of them are just as bad as the criminals. Some even worse. Brad Bellick (played by Wade Williams) seems like the most complex figure among the guards, and for a good reason. He’s also a flawed individual with skeletons in his closet, and I still have a love-hate relationship with that character.
But If I was to nitpick, I would say that stretching the story in 22 long episodes is the only flaw of Prison Break. Way too tense and nerve-wracking for my poor nerves. It was too much stress that I had to sit through, but all joking aside, those were some of the best 22 episodes in TV history.
Flawed Characters Always Make A Good Story
I got to know all the inmates (not just Scofield) and the correctional officers as well. And if I was to find faults in some of them, I’d say I that I have issues with the dumb decisions on some of the supporting characters. Namely Veronica Donovan (played by Robin Tunney). But aside from the few flaws, I was taken aback at how realistic and dark at the same time, the portrayal of the prison life is in Prison Break.
There’s no sugar-coating on the harsh nature of the prison-life. And frankly the only similar TV show I can compare it with (in regards to the realism) is Oz. Check that one as well. But over here in Prison Break, you have it all. Riots, violence, merciless killing and coercing. Also the smuggling, the abuse and the corruption. From pretty much everyone. Not just the inmates. That’s all in Prison Break and then some, which I appreciated. It didn’t hold anything back, and aside from few unrealistic glitches (death row inmate like Burrows working in PI), everything is solid gold. It showed how brutal and horrific prison really is, and why it can be a dangerous place to be in.
Who’s Your Favorite Character?
For me, that’s Michael Scofield. What can I say, I love me some smart dudes. But I also appreciated his cool calculating demeanor and normality among those vicious notorious criminals. He was always cool under pressure amid all the insanity and horror. And I loved the romantic development with Dr. Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) in the sub-plot too. It was a nice touch, that gave a lighter tone to the bleak nature of the show. But a real break out character from the first season for me is agent Paul Kellerman (Paul Adelstein). I love the dude. He’s loyal, ruthless, intelligent, and incredibly cunning.
And he will stop at nothing to get his way. I sense there’s much bigger development for this character in the later seasons, and I just have to wait to see it. As I previously mentioned T-Bag is a really good character, but I have more sympathy for the ones with less psychopathic tendencies. And more tragic fates I might add. Such as the ones of Benjamin C-Note Franklin, Fernando Sucre and that poor Tweener. I felt so bad for these three, and especially about the circumstances of their incarceration. But their stories just goes to show that life is not fair, and we just have to deal with it.
Smart And Real TV Show
It’s how would also describe Prison Break. It’s smart, tense and realistic, with layered and intriguing characters to cheer for. Not to mention one intricate and fascinating prison break peppered with government conspiracies and lots of drama. It took me a while to get on board, but damn it I’m so glad I did. It’s really worth it.
Your Thoughts: Prison Break VS Prison Architect
Are you a fan of Prison Break? Or maybe of the Prison Architect game? Tell us all about your impressions of both of them. We’d love to know all about them.