You may have played theme park, hospital or game development simulators, but nothing can prepare you for the comedic criminal construction chaos that is Prison Architect [Free (HD)]. Having launched in 2015 on PC to critical acclaim - and a BAFTA award in 2016 to add to its many accolades - Prison Architect puts you in prime control of a maximum security facility, with your tasks including literally constructing the concrete walls that separate your wildly unstable inmates from the outside world, as well as managing the variably violent criminals that are incarcerated in the lock-up. The mobile iteration of Prison Architect has been a long time coming, and after a limited soft launch in the Netherlands, the game has finally released worldwide on the App Store and is available to download for free, exclusively for tablet devices.

While British developer Introversion Software was responsible for the development of the original game, the mobile version is being formally published by Paradox Interactive. Apart from the extra name in the credits, this means that the long-term support of Prison Architect is firmly secure, which means only money and crime statistics can threaten your penitentiary's growth over the course of the game. With a fully fledged Campaign Mode where the prison experience is conveyed through numerous cutscenes and challenges (successive chapters are available through in-app purchases), Prison Architect is full to the brim with content, and is an essential purchase for any simulator fans who own an iPad. If you're an iPhone owner, the screen real estate sadly makes a future universal Prison Architect update unlikely, but there has never been a better reason to upgrade to a tablet device. For even more Jailhouse Rock, head down to our forum thread for meticulous detention center designs and further discussion on Prison Architect.

  • AltsKev

    why ipad only 🙁

    • Rob Funnell

      There's way too much going on - and too much of a reliance on precision inputs - for the tiny screen of the iPhone, sadly.

      • Bloodangel

        Surely iPhone+ be ok though?

      • nicodemus82

        Not necessarily true. I've been playing it on an iPhone 6 since it soft launched. Yes, is gonna be more optimal on a tablet for sure, but it's definitely still playable and very much enjoyable.

      • Rob Funnell

        Making it universal runs the risk of older device owners with their smaller screens downloading and being completely unable to play. Not ruling out a future version for the larger iPhone devices, but at launch I assume they just want to prioritise a tablet release before they try other things.

      • HelperMonkey

        This makes sense.
        They'd get slammed with negative reviews from the average iPhone owner who would find it too difficult to play.

    • Kahdmus

      Agreed. 🙁

  • Diegan


  • RinoaHeartily

    Why free!!! It should be a premium game! I want mind paying for the like of final fantasy series

    • RampageDeluxe

      It is premium, but unlocked as an in app purchase. You basically get a demo and then upgrade. What I don't like is having to accept a privacy policy before starting a game.

      • Diegan

        Are there different iaps or just one? What does each one does?

        I qant to play the game mode in qhich I am. Given some money and missions, and can build and eventually sell for anprofit and start a prison again...

      • RampageDeluxe

        It's just one and it's for the full game unlock.

      • Diegan

        You are wrong, there are several iaps at different prices. One unlocks all, others unlock parts of the story, etcetera. Remember itunes list the iaps that have already been purchased so, not always you will see all iaps in a game, until someone paid for them.

      • RampageDeluxe

        If you knew why did you ask? I was going from a different site's article.

      • Far_Out

        15 bucks for full unlock?

      • Trey227

        If the game/apps collecting data you'd want a privacy policy m8

      • RampageDeluxe

        Missed the point.

  • HelperMonkey

    I like the free-to-try pay model.
    Might as well download and give it a shot.

  • muttso1o

    Softlaunch in the Netherlands!? How could I have missed this...

  • 8tackOnTit

    There offline mode?

  • merefield

    Great game. Amazing replay value and so much content. Incredible performance considering how much is going on at any one time. Only criticism are the scenarios are expensive and the interface is a bit small on the iPad mini. Ignore the scenarios and just pay to unlock the full sandbox mode. TA should review this.