I love my PSVR headset. Some of the experiences and games you can get are pretty crazy and wouldn’t be possible without this immersive technology. One such experience, which I didn’t realise I wanted until I played it, is escaping from prison, a prison which appears to be run by potato-like beings! However, developer Trebuchet Studio has provided a new twist on the whole ‘prison escape’ theme in Prison Boss VR and opted for a more casual, yet intense, supply and demand system in order to ‘pay’ for your escape.
Armed with skills I learnt from the intense time-based efficiency within Dead Hungry and the multitasking of VR the Diner Duo, I went outside, punched a random bobby in the face and got myself locked up. Now, let’s see just how hard it really is to break out of this shithole as I attempt to master Prison Boss VR…
**Images taken from a 720p recording of the social screen – in-game is much clearer**
When I heard there was a VR prison escape game coming, I instantly thought of creating shivs, bribing the guards, sneaking my way into the laundry basket, and then being reunited with my ‘boys’ only to get arrested once more. However, I was hoping there was no slippery soap in the shower sequences as that would have been quite disturbing! Thankfully, that’s about as far from Prison Boss VR as you can get, with it’s cute aesthetic and Weebl & Bob like characters. This game focuses more on raising enough cash in order to pretty much buy your way out, although you don’t ‘pay’ for your escape with the cash…
Prison Boss VR is pretty much a Virtual Reality resource management game of supply and demand. You’re locked up in a prison with a bunch of inmates who demand items, you obtain the required materials to create said items from your trusty dealer, you sell them back to the same guy in the morning… Profit (literally). However, the game gets super intense the more you play because new mechanics are thrown into the works, faster and more alert guards will begin to patrol, and your desk drawer isn’t big enough to shove all your crap into!
That’s the general gist of the game, but what it actually like to play? Let’s find out…
But what do you actually do?
Prison Boss VR is a game about being stealthy as you meet the demand of your fellow inmates. The game has two stages, night and day – you can only craft new products at night time and you can only sell them during the day. This leads to you having to manage your time, space, hiding areas, and efficiency. Let’s talk about the daytime first…
During the day, your buddy/dealer will come and see you. He’ll happily take any and all finished or unfinished products off you in exchange for cash. Alternatively, he also has a list of ‘wants’ from fellow inmates who will offer a trade for certain things. For example, one of the first requests you get is for three cigarettes in exchange for some more paper, tobacco and ‘reputation points’. You’ll want to complete as many of these requests as you can as the points you earn will unlock new crafting materials, product designs, and furniture. However, if you’ve traded them in then you won’t get any new supplies or cash (unless it was part of the deal), so you need to make sure you still have money to purchase more materials. Speaking of which, the dealer will also sell you whatever materials you need, all with fluctuating prices based on how in-demand they are.
Once you’re finished and hit the clock, night-time begins. This is the time where you need to craft as many completed products as you can. However, should a guard walk by and see ANYTHING in your cell, be it a complete product or a mere component, they will search your cell and take away all of your items from all your hiding spots. So, what you need to do is ensure all items are shoved in your drawers, hid in the cupboard, or out of sight behind a piece of furniture. The downside of nighttime is, just like in real life, it goes so fast! Plus, as the days go on, more and more guards will begin to patrol as you’re trying to craft which makes it even more stressful and intense. This brings me nicely onto…
…How to be a CRAFTy prisoner
I love the core mechanics within Prison Boss VR, it takes a semi-serious subject and turns it into a comical casual-like game – a bit like the Cooking Mama series. The first ‘product’ you’ll be creating is the cigarette. To do this, you grab a piece of paper with two hands and rip it in half, pour tobacco onto the paper, roll it by using your fingers and thumbs on both hands, then lick it to create a perfect cigarette. These are nice and simple, plus you can stash them away in your desk drawer due to them being very small. Next, you’ll learn to write ‘Erotic letters’ for the other inmates. this uses the same paper we were using before, only without ripping it in two, and you need to scribble like crazy onto it with a giant pencil
As you level up by completing demands for people, you’ll learn new items to create, each one requiring more parts which either cost more or take more pieces to create. For example, a pencil costs 16 dollars and each piece of paper was 3-4 dollars based on the demand. however, each time you sold a dirty letter you got 10 dollars back – a 6-7 dollar profit. However, the next item you learn how to make is a rope – this is made up of three smaller ropes, each smaller rope is made up of three bits of fabric. So, you have to juggle if you want to sell the items you created and then buy materials for these, or buy cheaper, yet less profitable, items.
Don’t forget, if you’re trying to please the other inmates by supplying their items, you also have to juggle the fact you won’t be getting paid for a lot of these items as well. This is why I’d class this as a resource management game more than anything as you really do have to manage what you’re doing to avoid the risk of running out.
One of the major advantages of levelling up is the ability to buy new gear for your cell. Your trusty desk and tiny cupboard will only help you out for so long before you are creating things too big to quickly hideaway. As such, you can buy bigger hidey-holes such as lockers and bigger tables. However, don’t do what I did and press both the trigger and Move button at the same time and delete your cupboard, leaving all your contraband on the floor as a guard suddenly appeared to do his nightly shift! I’ve not moved as fast in my entire life as I tried to stash everything out of sight before I got caught. Thankfully, the guard which was doing the round wasn’t anything to be worried about as she was too busy chatting on her phone to even look in my cell!
That’s a mechanic which I wasn’t expecting, all of the guards have their own personalities. The one on her phone didn’t catch the fact I had a pencil on the table – which I forgot about – yet earlier on another guard walked past and spotted a piece of paper just slightly poking out of the drawer. Some are also quite fast in performing their rounds, making very little stops along the way, whereas others may take ages to walk all around the cells and stop every now and again to stare off into space. The whole experience makes it rather stressful as you don’t know whether to stop what your doing and hide things, stick your hands in a drawer and carry on because the one walking isn’t paying attention, or rush as fast as you can to finish before it hits 6 am!
Another feature I love is how the game deals with letting you speed up time. If you naturally live out the night until 6 am, it doesn’t matter if you have any illegal items on show, as the guards just stop coming in the morning. However, if you click the clock to fast-forward to morning, if you have anything out on display then the guards will notice and search your cell once the time stops progressing to 6 am. It just helps keep you even more vigilant with what you’re doing and aware of how much of your illegal activities are on display!
As I’ve touched on above, you’re not in a single prison throughout your time in Prison Boss VR, there are four very visually different venues for you to work your way through. Not only is the look of each prison from within the cell different, but the gameplay alters slightly as well. The second prison, for example, has your standard cell door on the right yet a more obstructed view panel on the left. This means that it’s harder to see what the guard is up too, or if one has even started patrolling! Small things like that really begin to ramp up the difficulty and adds to the excitement of the game.
Once you’ve mastered all of the four prisons you’re presented with, you can try out the new ‘Boss Mode’! This is effectively the ‘sandbox’ portion of the game where you can craft all eleven of the items within the same prison with only one goal – earn as much as you can without getting caught. There is another mode, which is available from the start, but that’s more of an arcade-type mode that has you against an ever-decreasing clock which only goes back up if you sell more items. The goal of that mode is to craft and earn as much as you can before the timer runs out.
Prison Boss VR looks great in VR. Sure, it’s not a clean and crisp as some of the recent releases such as In Death or Red Matter, but the cartoony aesthetics helps make the game look better than your usual VR game even if it’s a little fuzzy in areas. The developers have used the Move controllers perfectly, adding a bunch of calibration options as well as the ability to throw items just by releasing the trigger – this makes hiding things a million times easier and more efficient when you’re limited on space in real life. The game is also perfectly playable whilst sat down, which is a massive thumbs up from me. The only issue I had mechanically is that about an hour in I was starting to drift to the left a little. However, I believe that’s my 1st gen VR headset and not the game as I’ve had that issue in a few games previously.
Audio-wise, if you’ve ever seen a Weebl and Bob animation, the characters all sound like those. Nonsense gobble-de-dook which doesn’t make any sense as they carelessly mumble to themselves. It adds to the charm of the game and all important info is given via subtitles anyway, so there is no need for actual speech. I love the sound effects within Prison Boss VR and the whole comical approach to the situation – I can’t falter anything in the audio or visual department! It’s yet another stand-out PSVR title that everyone should try out.
Speaking of which, you can try it out – for FREE! There’s a demo for Prison Boss VR on PSN right now HERE– If you’ve liked the sound of anything you’ve read so far, be sure to check it out.
My first real attempt at a prison break:
Prison Boss VR is like Pringles, once you get started you don’t want to stop until you escape or die trying! Well, maybe not die, more like ‘get caught’. I would class the game as more of a ‘resource management’ type of game than anything else as you’re constantly having to ensure you have enough materials bought during the day so you can craft at night in order to both satisfy inmates and raise a bit of cash. It does get quite intense as more elaborate crafting comes into play and more guards begin to patrol differently, but as long as you stay cool, you’ll be fine! Also, due to the look and feel of the game, I’d say it’s suitable for people of all ages.
If you’re looking for a fun game to play with your family as you battle it out and see who’s best this Christmas, why not grab Prison Boss VR and see who the craftiest person in your family really is!
Prison Boss VR£15.99
- - Fast, frantic action with non-stop things to do
- - Funny characters and a lovely comical aesthetic
- - At least an hour worth of content in each prision, plus replayability, plus Boss mode, and the arcade mode
- - Eleven items to craft with increasing complexity and difficulty
- - Easy to pick up and play no matter what your VR skill level is
- - You have to multitask in the game, a lot. If that's not a strong point for you, you may suffer
- - I wish the Boss mode was unlocked from the start