Prison Architect or RimWorld? They May Look Alike but That's Where the Similarities End

Prison Architect and RimWorld may look very alike but they are two completely different games.

Prison Architect and RimWorld are both played from the same perspective and while they do look very alike, they are two completely different games by dissimilar developers. Let's compare the two games and establish how they differ from each other.

RimWorld Is Survival, Prison Architect Is Management

In RimWorld the player takes on the role of a group of survivors who have landed on an unknown planet. Their goal is to build a shelter and begin anew while surviving the dangers of the harsh new world. Prison Architect, on the other hand, has the player build a maximum security prison and then manage it.

Players must ensure that the prison has all the facility requirements along with the right amount of security to ensure prisoners don't escape and to keep them from rioting. In RimWorld you start with almost nothing and must gather resources, research new technology and keep the survivors happy.

In Prison Architect, you need to build a prison from the ground up to cater bus load after bus load of prisoners as they arrive. Ensuring everything is ready for their arrival, bedding, toiletry and so on. The two games have very different gameplay. One is about building and surviving in a new world while the other is all about management and keeping ahead of time. 

Both Games Have Prisoners but in Different Ways

Both RimWorld and Prison Architect have imprisonment mechanics to them. Prison Architect revolves around housing dangerous inmates and keeping everything under control. RimWorld revolves around capturing refugees or prisoners.

When imprisoned, you can attempt to convince them to join you or sell them into slavery. They are two very unlike mechanics in two very different games. Imprisonment in Prison Architect is about conducting your duty -- it is your job.

In RimWorld it is about gaining an advantage in a harsh world that is set out to destroy you. Even your actions for that advantage are cruel. If you do not gain the advantage of turning them to your side, you at least gain something for selling them into slavery.

They Both Tell a Story, but Very Differently

Both games tell a story but how they do this is very disparate to each other. Prison Architect tell a story about an inmate called Edward who is facing the electric chair for committing a crime of passion. This is then followed by four additional chapters focusing on different characters and aspects of prison life.

RimWorld's story is told in a very non-identical way. The story is told through an A.I storyteller. There are three of them to choose from, each with their own methods of storytelling. One is more methodical, and tells the story at a slower pace, allowing for some time between disasters.

Another is much more erratic and unpredictable. You will never know when or what he is going to throw at you. The A.I storytellers control all the events that happen throughout the game, from natural disasters, bandit raids and trading caravans. It is all controlled by them. Each game tells a very different story and does so in very unlike ways.

They Look Alike but That's Where the Similarities End

Yes, the two games do look very alike, they use the same style of graphics and are played from the same perspective. That is all that the two games have in common. They each have a story but both are poles apart and the same can be said for how they are told.

Both do include an imprisonment mechanic but how they work is very mismatched. The gameplay within both of these games is also very different as one is about surviving in a strange and hostile world while the other is building and managing a maximum security prison.

Which one of the two should you choose? Well, that depends on your video game appeal. If building a prison and managing it to help ensure that everything is in order and on time, then Prison Architect may be for you. If being thrown into a world where you must gather resources, build, adapt and survive, then RimWorld may be the one to choose. Whichever one may interest you, both are exceptional games that are worth playing.


Playing video games for over 23 years, love to write and love everything video game related.

Published Nov. 9th 2016

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