Prison Mayhem Hands-On Preview

We’ve seen Diner Dash-style games set in a variety of places, from a Zombie Cafe to the Star Wars Cantina, but this is the first time we’ve seen one set in a prison. Developer 99Games is working on a sim that puts you in the shoes of a warden named Bluto who’s responsible for administering justice to the criminals of the world.

In Prison Mayhem, hand-cuffed criminals shuffle into the prison, and you have to change them into prison duds and lock them in a cell. Some criminals come in solo while others come in groups of two or three. Cell space is limited, however, and bigger groups of prisoners can’t be shoved into the tiny cells, so prisoner placement isn’t a mindless decision.

Once you have a few prisoners locked away, you’ll have to attend to their basic needs, like hunger, injury, and boredom. Sometimes they’ll get into fights that you need to break up, and sometimes they’ll try to escape. When a prisoner is reformed, you’ll need to let him out and clean his cell before you can put someone else in. It’s a lot to handle and there’s only one warden, so you have to juggle these tasks intelligently. If you don’t, the game becomes hectic very quickly.

Four different prisons will available when the games is released, with 10 levels in each. You can customize the prisons to your liking, or you can let them remain dingy dumps. There are 12 different prisoner types that are introduced as you progress through the game. You’ll encounter everyone from common thugs to corrupt accountants, and each one will have different needs. If level progression isn’t your thing, you can play the endless Life Sentence mode to see how long you can stay on top of the ever piling-up tasks.

Since we’ve seen so many time-management sims set in diners and at social events, seeing one set in a prison is a nice change of pace. Whether the game will hold up against the best in the genre, we’ll have to wait to find out when it’s released in the next few weeks. Prison Mayhem will be released first for the iPad, followed at some point by an iPhone version.