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Prison Architect 2 adds a new dimension to the beloved management game

Prison Architect 2 developer Double11 explains the jump to 3D for its long-awaited management game sequel, with huge multi-floor potential.

Prison Architect 2 adds third dimension with multi-floor building - An inmate wearing a yellow jumpsuit.

Prison Architect 2, the long-awaited sequel to one of the best management games on PC, brings the unique building sim into a whole new dimension. With the leap to 3D, developer Double11 and publisher Paradox are looking to take a step up over the likes of Rimworld and Factorio, giving you the much-requested ability to build multi-floor facilities. In the first video of a new series, the team shows off its gorgeous new look for the upcoming game.

Prison Architect 2 looks to build on one of the best management games around. Holding a ‘very positive’ 90% Steam rating, the first game remains one of the most interesting and challenging management sims I’ve played, tasking you with building and running an efficient and successful prison and handling all the potential troubles that come from housing some of society’s most dangerous criminals.

“We really wanted to do something with more production value, but also 3D opens up a number of new gameplay depths, like multiple floors,” game director Gareth Wright says, noting that he’s excited about players “being able to actually create prisons like Alcatraz for real this time.” He adds, “It’s not just ‘let’s make Prison Architect in 3D,’ the deeper reason for it is to really blow up the potential of the game through the construction, the automation, the logistics.”

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“I was always working quite closely with the community and one of the big things that kept coming up from people was ‘we want multi-floor,’” designer Natalie Wicks explains. “As soon as that opportunity came up we knew to make multi-floor work it’s got to be 3D. As soon as we got into the green light process that became really exciting really quickly, because we got to work with a lot of these things that people wanted and turn them into something brilliant.”

The team was adamant about wanting to keep the iconic style of the original game, however. “It’s not a new thing,” lead artist Tim McCluskey explains, “we always have to retain the look of the 2D one, and I think we’ve got very close.” Wicks notes, “It just looks gorgeous, we get to do a lot of fun stuff with lighting and angles whereas with top-down it’s very fixed, you’re kind of limited with what you can do.”

From the initial footage seen here, I have to agree – it’s definitely a huge step up from the first game but captures the charm that the simple art style of the original brought to what could, at times, be quite a dark and morbid experience given its subject matter. A more realistic style would come with its own set of issues, so I’m glad to see that Double11 has stuck to what already worked.

Prison Architect 2 - New offices and cells being built with the 3D game's multi-floor layouts.

The leap to 3D has required some careful redesign, however, due to the way it affects the perception of scale. “The ratio of inmates to walls, for example, is halved,” Wicks notes, “the population of the prisons are smaller and the size of the prisons expand [from the first game].” The lighting and texture work go a long way, however, bringing some real visual style to the sequel.

Another big addition that’s come from the new 3D models is fingers. “By adding fingers now [characters] can reload guns, they can manipulate buttons – facial features, the eyes, that has been a big game changer,” McCluskey notes. That should make it a little easier to keep track of which of your inmates is up to no good; you’ll need to have a sharp eye, however, as there’s more than ever to follow.

“For the player, you’re going to have to manage not just this one big prison that you can see at a glance, there’s all these other levels,” Wicks concludes. “We do have some iconography to highlight it, but it means that those players who really enjoy the action part of it, there’s a lot more for them to watch – a lot more challenges for the player.”

Prison Architect 2 - guards and prisoners get into a fight in an outdoor yard.

Prison Architect 2 is set to launch Tuesday, March 26 on Steam. It’s priced at $39.99 / £34.99 for the standard edition, or $49.99 / £41.99 for the Warden’s edition. You can head to the store page now to add it to your wishlist or pre-purchase a copy.

Alternatively, have a look through more of the best building games if you love to craft something memorable, or the best simulation games to see other digital implementations of real-world systems.

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