Prison Boss VR Review
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Ever wondered what it would be like playing something similar to Job Simulator in prison, well this what Prison Boss VR let’s you experience. But, does it work as well as it sounds it should?
The game does not really craft a story per say, again with other VR games it is more a goal. You goal is to rise in the ranks of your prison, until you escape from that one to move into another prison. In order to do this it as all about crafting and completing goals in order to rise and progress through the game.
There are a number of things you can craft to make money in order to grow and progress, but there’s other elements to the game as well as the crafting of the objects, so let’s delve into the gameplay.
Firstly let’s look at the crafting, in the game you will get a total of eleven items to craft with different items being at different jails. When you are in the first prison you will craft cigarettes, ropes and dabble in the writing erotic letters. You will start with the crafting of cigarettes but you can’t just keep crafting these and making money, as this is not how you progress to the other items (which I will touch on this soon). As you get the new items you will be given the chance to watch a tutorial on how to make these new items, each one takes a different approach.
I’m sure you’ll be thinking where is the challenge in this crafting of items, well there is some elements you have to take into account. Firstly, you can only craft at night, you progress to night by pressing on the clock in your cell to forward time. On the night-time the guards will patrol the cells, and you can’t be caught with the contraband you are crafting with. So, you have to keep an eye on the guards and hide your contraband before they reach your cell – and each guard has their own movement speeds, so you need to take this into account. Get caught and any contraband in their sight is taken, and your stock is down – this includes leaving contraband out when changing back to morning. Then you need the money for the materials for crafting, during the day your cell is visited, you give in your created items for money, to then buy more materials for crafting. However, if you run out of money, you have a little character in your cell called Bobby, you can trade him in for money – but any remaining material stock you have in your cell is also taken.
When it comes to hiding your contraband, you will start with a table with one drawer and a small object to hide your contraband in. So make sure you are ready to stash those items as quick as possible. You can also use your money if you have enough stockpiled materials to purchase more storage for your cell – which really helps with contraband management as you progress through the levels and prisons. But, remember stock is important as well, so make sure your stock is high enough.
Let’s go back to the progression of getting more items to craft. Through the four prisons you will be placed in there is also jobs you can complete from the guy who sells you the materials. For example as you start it will be crafting cigarettes for set inmates or staff. So, you might have managed to craft six cigarettes that night, and have a good lot of money saved up already, meaning you can give a guard five of those six cigarettes. Completing these jobs does not give you money but rewards, these can be the next item you can craft, more reputation in that prison or contraband for your stock. Again adding more than just craft and purchase mechanics, and letting the game offer a bit more.
The team at Trebuchet have brought the cartoon cell-shaded look to their game, it makes me think of the aforementioned Job Simulator meets Borderlands in the visual style. But everything around the cells, to the materials to the characters are well finished and brings the immersion into the game. One thing I was a big fan of was the odd egg-shaped character models in the game it really suited the presentational style of the game. When it comes to sound, there is no spoken words more just mumbles and the general sounds you would expect around the prison on both the day and night cycle. Be it noise for the other inmates during the day, or the guards walking around on the night – also the whistle when your caught made me jump a few times when I was too lost in crafting to remember to look for the guards position.
When it comes to the controls Touch Controllers are required, and I found the game really unique in it’s approach – you could see the team have really thought about them. Firstly, it uses room-scale to more around the cell and putting things away. But, the crafting is where the controls come to life. As previously mentioned each item has it’s own mechanics and they make you feel like you are doing them. For example in the first prison making the cigarettes will require you to grip the paper in both hands and then do the ripping motion, then shake the tobacco on the paper, pick it back up, do the rolling movement on the analogue sticks, and then finally bring the rolled paper to your headset to lick it and seal it. Then with the erotic letters you will need to hold the paper and do the scribbling motion as quick as you can with the pencil in the other, and for the rope do a twisting motion with the controllers. Yes you are given the tutorials as mentioned, but the crafting will come with a learning curve as you would expect.
I found Prison Boss was not a game I played for hours at a time, but it was one I enjoyed going back to in stints and enjoying it each time I did – I personally found this was the best way to play it. But overall in order to get the progression and complete the jobs that are made available throughout the prisons you are looking at about five to six fun-filled hours with the game – which for me is totally acceptable for the £14.99 price point. The game also adds an arcade mode to it, so after you have you completed the game you can go back and try to set high-scores in this mode.
Prison Boss VR brings with a unique and innovative control system, and also brings something a bit more light-hearted to the VR platform – like Job Simulator has previously. If you were a fan of Job Simulator this game will certainly be one you consider adding to your collection, because you will also love Prison Boss VR. I also think it is something you will find yourself dipping back into over the five to six hours playtime, rather than flying through it in a long sessions – but that just adds to the charm of this game in my opinion.
Also available on HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality