ou know, the title Prison Boss VR might be a little deceiving to some players. It’d be easy to look at it and think that you were going to run your own prison in virtual reality, though when you start playing and realise you’re the one behind bars it could be a little confusing.
Alas, being the one in the cell doesn’t mean you can’t become the ‘Prison Boss’ – it just turns out that rather than being the boss of the prison guards, you’ll be the self-proclaimed king of the prisoners. We’ve all watched The Shawshank Redemption and seen how Morgan Freeman was the man who could get things for you, right? Well, in Prison Boss VR you kinda take on that role, with you crafting all the items any prisoner could need as you look to establish your own cell-based empire.
Prison Boss VR requires Move controllers to play, with each one representing your hands as you grab out to everything around you and craft your items. Whilst some games simplify crafting by simply having players mix two items together though, Prison Boss VR takes a more intricate approach. For example, the first item you’re going to craft is a cigarette – easy, right? Well, to do so you have to rip up a piece of paper by tearing it with both hands, tip some tobacco on it by shaking your hand, roll it up my mashing the Move button, and give it a quick lick to seal it by bringing it to your face (no, you don’t have to go licking your Move controller). It certainly lets players show off their creative side, but it shows that it takes a little bit of work to make even the simplest of items.
It’s all about getting the right resources in and then utilising them to make the different items that people ask for. Fortunately, it’s always clear enough what to do, and with only eleven different items to craft in total it shouldn’t take you too long to figure everything out. Actually crafting the items themselves is fun though, with the creative aspect of actually manipulating the items in various ways making you feel like you’re really there in this cell running an illicit cigarette operation. Don’t worry though – you’ll eventually be working on the likes of alcohol and cookies too.
The bulk of your time in Prison Boss VR will be spent crafting at night, when the player’s actions are less obvious to those around them. Be warned though: prison guards are constantly patrolling the halls and if they catch you they’ll confiscate anything you’ve crafted. When they approach you you’re given the chance to quickly hide anything you have away though, so provided you’re not left in a rush and have enough storage space you should be able to protect it all… maybe.
Whilst you’ll be working at night, you’ll still be kept busy in the day. It’s during this time that you’ll buy new crafting resources, tools to open up more crafting options, and take on the jobs to keep your business rolling. The jobs themselves are simple enough with them typically consisting of crafting a specific amount of items for someone, though the reward of resources and an improved reputation ensure that you’ll slowly become the bigwig of the prison.
You won’t stay in prison for too long though and eventually manage to move on to other locations to work, with each one bringing on different jobs to tackle. The difficulty ramps up too, with more suspicious and patrolling guards to be wary of – balancing out crafting and hiding everything can get pretty tricky later on, so there’s definitely some challenge to the experience. It certainly keeps things interesting, which is pretty important seeing as the gameplay cycle never really changes up all that much.
That’s probably Prison Boss VR’s biggest flaw though – it can get pretty repetitive. It becomes a routine of taking on a job, crafting items, avoiding guards, and then selling things on, but with just your own prison cell to explore there’s not a whole lot of excitement taking place in between. Gamers who like a bit of extra variety in their games might start to tire of the formula after just a couple of hours play, especially since there’s not a whole lot to work towards. I personally couldn’t get enough though, with Prison Boss VR draining hours of my time away from me. Sure, you’re doing a lot of the same things, but the tension of avoiding prison guards whilst crafting remained enjoyable throughout and it was certainly satisfying seeing my little empire grow. It’s just a lot of fun.
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift