Prison Architect’s first mission concerns building an execution chamber, the centerpiece an electric chair. Calls from a nameless CEO tell you to build walls, flooring, underground electrical lines, etc. All the while, the condemned sits in a cell waiting for the power switch to be installed on the death machine. Played out in comic-like chunks, flashbacks tell a story of a cheating wife, her husband the man condemned. How bizarre this thing is.
There are countless ways Prison Architect intends for someone to think. Commentary on the morality of the death sentence isn’t one of them. Instead, there’s profitability – private business discovering the means to capitalize on killing people. Prison Architect’s means are crude though, with little more than floating stick figures capturing an unnervingly adorable look at a harrowing circumstance of capitalism. Probably no more harmless than the gluttony of those mid-2000s Tycoon games (of which there were a slew of Prison Tycoons) but the circumstances are entirely uncomfortable.
(Addendum: Although it’s unorthodox to do, it would be wrong not to mention Will Partin’s brilliant Prison Architect review at Kill Screen which delves deeper into the prison system than my own knowledge allows)