The makers of Prisonscape have taken the stories from Oz, Orange is the New Black, and The Wire and rethreaded them into a JRPG pixel art prison game. Quests are replaced by jobs and they see you doings things like snitching on gangs, making shivs out of bed springs, and organising a hit.
It looks extremely promising.
The game is looking to be pretty open. You choose whether to help the guards and improve your standing with them at the risk of losing your reputation with the prison gangs. Or you can ally with a particular gang, gaining their support and protection, while becoming a target for the other gangs.
You can create weapons from your environment to get a leg up in prison brawls but using them can earn you a place in solitary and make you a target for other inmates. Instead, you could use drugs to gain an advantage. Painkillers and amphetamines will make you fight longer and harder but you can end up addicted or permanently injured.
Jobs, too, are designed to be completed in a number of ways. One example given by the developer has you trying to switch the gang operating the kitchen:
“The Aryan Brotherhood leader wants you to help them take the kitchen back from the black inmates. For this, you have to do a series of miniquests and once you have completed enough of these, the kitchen administration will be handed to the whites. Some examples of doing this include:
“- Create a rat problem by putting dead fish in the air ventilation of the kitchen. For this, you’ll need Intelligence & Agility stats, and Intimidation and Pickpocketing skills will also help with the task
“- Spread rumours about the foul quality of the food. Uses Intelligence stat, and Intimidation skill might help a bit
“- Bribe one the guards to let you in the kitchen and do some re-work on the refrigerator so that the food will we spoilt over night. You need some trade goods for bribing and Intelligence stat & Electronics skill for the sabotage. Haggling skill will give you a small bribery boost
“- Beat up some of the sous-chefs so that the kitchen will be understaffed. Requires good fighting skills and Strength
“- Bribe other inmates to complain about the food. Requires a LOT of trade goods”
You can see it caters to many different styles of play and rewards you with exploring the options.
Prisonscape is due out later this year and we’ll be following it for new updates.