Some time during my college study, me and my classmates were all addicted to Fox award winning TV series called Prison Break. We were all anticipating every time when a new episode came out, guessing what the prison life story that would be revealed. Anyway, for those who don't know anything about this TV Series, I'd recommend you watching the first and second season of the series. I personally think it's the best TV Series about prison life and breaking out of a prison.
Now back to our game. In this game, like Scofield and all the Prison Break casts, we're becoming an inmate. A person whose sentenced to stay and have a prison life for the crime we have committed. The game itself was developed by a Cheng Shu Wan, a one man indie developer called NobStudio. As a game developer, he has created many games. Before going into mobile games platform, Cheng used to create games with Flash as its platform. Until now, he has developed over 20 Flash games. At his website, you can play other games created by Cheng. I've played Book of Mages and it pretty much showing Cheng's skill as a game developer.
Since February 15th, Cheng has switched his job as a game developer. Now he's committed himself to the country as a prison's warden. This warden will keep an eye to all the inmates that are now registering themselves in a game called Prison Life RPG. Prison Life RPG is a game that acts as prison life simulator. How your life would change if you're for whatever reasons somehow getting caught and the next day, you're in a jail. Prison Life RPG took more than a year to construct, said Cheng.
The game has a very deep content. Since it is called Prison Life RPG, the game is designed around the inmates as the object. Also, since it also a prison life simulator, the game is simulating the game with quite details. Note to all the readers, before I even start to convince you about how deep the game is, you should know that this review will be pretty long and that's how deep the content of the game is. So if you feel convinced in the middle of reading this, don't feel bad for not reading it until the end (just joking, please read it until it's done lol).
So first of all, you can choose from 100 available inmates to be played with. In the inmates list, you will have a wide list of inmate. You can choose from an absurd character like clown, nerd guy, vampire until a well-known character that pun into a hilarious character (i.e: Bbbbat-man that has been old and have personal goal to return his fitness back, Legolas and LOTR famous characters, and psst Gangmano). You'll also have the supportive character designed exclusively for that particular character. So if you choose Scofield (apparently, the game pretty much inspired by Prison Break the Series), you will have Lincoln (his brother), Sucre, Tweener, and the notorious T-Bag. If you choose Bbbat-man, you can have your loyal servant, Alfred. There's a chance that you won't find Lincoln if you play Bbbat-man and vice versa.
Each inmate also have their own personal goal. So you can imagine the replayable value of Prison Life RPG. The personal goal itself is not a game changer, but it gives some sort of different experiences to the player. For instance, the clown (i've played this character) will have to joke when doing a shower (will explain this later) three times; bbbat-man will have to shape up himself; scofield have to escape the prison with his brother along his escape team. There are also other personal goals like changing gang membership three times, becoming captain of a certain gang, delivering package (that's Sucret's personal goal by the way), stealing from others, and so much more. Every time you've done a personal goal, the next list of inmates will be playable; and of course, the personal goal will become even harder in every inmates list you've unlocked.
Beside personal goal, inmates also have stats just like many RPG games have. Strength, Agility, Intelligence, and Charisma. All these stats will decide how you can survive inside the prison and have a wonderful prison life. There are so much things that you can do when you've entered the prison. You can interact and 'be interact-ed' by the inmates. It means you can either bullying or be bullied by other inmates. Well this thing is quite obvious for a prison life simulator, you can bribing the police officer there, taking other inmates foods while eating. You can also do some gambling to earn more cash, or perhaps official boxing arena just to satisfy your affection towards other inmate.
All of these interaction, the success rates will be decided with your stats, skills, and rolling dice. So for instance, if you want to bully other inmate, you will obviously need your strength and agility stats. If you have more strength and agility than your opponents, there would be no chance that your opponent can beat you. This happens because of the satisfying dice algorithm. Cheng has put this smart complex roll dice system quite nice so that the balance of the game won't be off. So if you have for example 7 for your strength, the dice will always roll between 7 to 10 (the maximum number). On the other hand, if you only have 1 for your strength, the dice will roll randomly between 1 to 10. The odds would be very low for a weaklings to beat stronger opponent; there will always a chance to do so, but the chance is significantly low for this matter.
I've stated just now that to do interaction you will need stats and skills. There are 18 skills to learn and master, and of course you will only have at most 5 or 6 skills to start with. The skill here will act as the constant variable. Unlike the stats, skills are always giving you the same value for your interaction. However, the skill value will be different depends on what interaction you're going to do. You won't be needing Kissing Ass skill if you're going to beat someone elses. On the other hand, Shaolin Kungfu skills won't do much when you're going to socialize with other inmates.
Relationship is also one of the main points in this prison life simulator. Have a good relationship with other inmates and they will help you adding some contstant point when you're being bullied by other inmates. You can even persuade inmate that's going to bully you if you have a good relationship with him. In contrary, bad relationship will be resulting you being bullied more often than before. Even worse, they can try to kill you if they hate you that much.
When I said that Prison Life RPG is based on a Prison Break TV Series, it would be obvious that you can do prison break in this prison life simulator. Not only just some prison break act, you can in fact plan your escape plan. You can choose many routes, go through the sick bay by using the pretty nurse there to unlock your handcuff? Done. Or perhaps go through warden office by kidnapping him? Even in one place, you can choose up to three different scenarios to smoothen your escape plan. You just need to set up your escape plan, do the requirement and you will escape the prison smoothly.
Chen also kind enough for inmates that choose the peaceful way. For those who loves being inside the prison, enjoying the free food, extra money and your own private cell, you can also choose to wait until your sentence days is over. Just make sure you didn't do anything that would make the officer mad at you and give you another days to spend inside the prison. You can also choose to dominate the whole prison life by applying Gang membership and climb up the rank. You can do the gang job which change again how you will spend your life in the prison.
Things I Like
For me personally, I love almost every aspect inside the game. I think I don't have to repeat myself about the depth of the content (there I go, repeating myself again). But with that many features, and its replayability value, it's hard to put down the game once you've started playing. The rolling dice system, is also satisfying for me. It keeps the balance of the game and I think it has been designed carefully, showing Cheng's experiences in designing games.
This rolling dice system also used in almost everything inside the game. Talking with other inmates, bribing, gambling, flirting, even stealing. Once I think about it, it keeps the game moving at a consistent pace. It didn't move to slowly because useless extra details. It kept me playing and moving forward at a consistent pace. The conversation bubble is also quite funny despite being the same; the first time I read the bubble, I also laugh at it.
Tips and Tricks
I have some tips in my sleeve that I really want to share to you. I do this to help any beginner, first-time player of Prison Life RPG to experience the real fun that I've experienced with the game.
I'd recommend Uncle Rico or Clown to choose for the first character. For Uncle Rico, it's because he has set of skills that would make it easier to communicate with others. He also have a pretty good stats. Also with a Basketball skill, he can easily accepted into the Roses and Guns gang.
For Clown, I'd recomment this guy because of his traits. His traits is to get $200 every day. It would make him easier to complete gang job that requires money to do. With this money, he can easily improve his low stats by purchasing all the needed item.
After you finish one personal goal, try to use Scofield as your characters. He has great intelligence and also a good relationship with some inmates inside the prison. He also has this advantage to go to Sick Bay every day without doing anything. So you can use the pretty nurse there as your Escape Plan basis.
Applying Gang Membership
All the gangs are requiring you to have skill that suitable with them. The Heartbreakers gang would require you to have Social skills, Roses and Guns gang will need you to play Basketball with them, and etc. So before applying make sure you have the skills needed.
Stats to Improve
It depends on your basic stats, but generally speaking, I'd recommend you to increase your Luck first. The reason is that everyone starts with 1 as their basic stats for Luck. Also, there are some certain interaction that would requires your luck, especially when gambling. Each stats upgrade would require you to go to Sick Bay. You can be beaten up to go there, or you can buy some Sick Pills from the Gold Coins gang's shop and go to Sick Bay.
Inside the Sick Bay, go find the Mad Doctor. To increase your luck, you'd require x4 Weather Info and x4 Mirror. Weather Info can be required by Watching TV after your lunch session at Heartbreakers gang's place. It will cost you $10 every time also you are not guaranteed to get Weather Info every time you watch the TV. So if you don't have enough money to spend, I suggest you don't do this.
To earn money without using trait, you need to master Gamble and Banker skills. Then you can do gambling every day after your lunch session. If you have high Intelligence and Agility, despite of gambling honestly, you can cheat your money. This would be riskier but at the same time, the dice roll would roll your intelligence despite your awful Luck.
The other way to gain some money is betting on the Boxing arena. The rule is the same but the reward is different. If you win the money based on what you betting in Gambling arena, in boxing arena there will be some odds involved. So if the odds lower, you won't be winning as many reward as you would earn in the gambling area.
Escape from Prison
To escape from prison, the very first thing that you need to do is to gather your escape team. This escape team should have some skill that you don't have and don't want to learn. So skills like Stealth or Disguise, skills that don't quite useful for surviving, this kind of skills are what you need from your escape team member.
The second thing that you need to do is planning your escape route. For example, Scofield can go to Sick Bay every day. So this Sick Bay can the starting point for him. Bbbat-Man on the other hand is the rich guy, so he can start his escape route from a private cell. You can find your own starting point based on your characters.
Skills to Learn
The skills that you need to learn is highly depends on what you want to do. If you want to kill someone, skills that you need to learn is Shaolin Kungfu and Threaten skills. Both of this required gossip as the item. You just need to idling around until you find this particular item.
If you however want to get more money, I'd recommend Gamble and Banker as the skills you need to master. Gamble needs gossip item, and Banker requires pencil as the item. You can idling around or use Steal skill to skill from other inmate. If you want to have a good relationship, Kiss Ass skill would give a great point. You need mirror as the item requirement. You can purchase it in Gold Coin gang shop.
On the top of all that, I personally think that the first skill you need to master is the Stealing skill. With this skill you would be enabled to stealing from other inmate. Moreover, almost all of the important items can be acquired by stealing from other inmates. So this skill is quite important especially if you want to escape from the prison.
After learning from other inmates, later at night you have to learn this skills yourself. For this, I'd recommend you to have burger on your arsenal. You can get burger by stealing from others or crafting bread and meat. Burger is very important as it will gives you +100 energy so you can stay all night, mastering the skill you need. You should also notice that if you don't have the stats requirement for that skill you'd be taking longer time to master it. But that only until you master the skill. Once you master the skill, the value would be the same.
Prison Life RPG is a great prison life simulator, if not the best one. I think for a long time since Game Dev Story by Kairosoft, Prison Life RPG is the best simulator game I've been playing with my iPhone. Kudos to Cheng Shu for creating such game and I couldn't stop recommend this game to all of you future inmates.