The cult hit Prison Architect is getting a sequel and it's actually releasing pretty soon. The franchise follow-up launches on March 26 for PC via Steam, Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. There’s even a trailer, posted below. Of note, Prison Architect 2 brings the series to 3D, as the original was a strictly top-down affair. The sequel has a cartoonish look that’s slightly reminiscent of newer Dragon Quest games, but the gameplay is anything but a JRPG.
As the name suggests, it’s a robust prison-building simulator. We loved the original and wrote that it was nearly impossible to play the game in a humane way, as limitations would eventually force you to mistreat prisoners in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” This correlation with our real-world prison system was likely not an accident, as the end-goal of the game was to sell your prison for a hefty profit.
We don’t know if the sequel will keep this critical eye on America’s for-profit prison system, but it's more than likely. The trailer, after all, shows a dehumanized inmate being prevented from escape at every turn. Sure, it's a cute-looking cartoon inmate, but an inmate all the same. Also, one of the game’s taglines is “will your prisons end up being monuments to rehabilitation or retribution? Most importantly, will they pay the bills?”
Prison Architect 2 is bringing a host of new features to the table, beyond a jump to 3D. The developer says the inmates are now smarter and will develop relationships with one another based on wants and needs. Your design will “affect every aspect” of their lives, so plan accordingly. The first game liked to tighten the purse strings just when you wanted to build a library or even walls around a toilet.
There’s also an upgraded career mode, in which you can build multiple prisons in the same city, and more control options for creating facility policies. Developer Paradox Interactive, who made the first one, has teased new gameplay scenarios, like escapes, gang wars and “all sorts of expensive and destructive problems.”
Prison Architect 2 will cost $40 when it releases in late March. In related news, private prison “industry leader” GEO Group posted record profits in 2023 and the Corrections Corporation of America is currently enjoying around 14 percent of year-to-year growth since 2009.