Available On: PC
Developer: Davit Andreasyan
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Genre: Horror, Adventure, Indie
Official Site: Inmates
Release Date: October 5, 2017
Where to Buy: Steam ($9.99)
It is that time of year again. Where people are scanning all avenues for a spooky way to spend their evening. Luckily, for most people, Steam is full of spooky, unsettling experiences that will keep them up at night. However, not all of those experiences necessarily live up to their spooky expectations. At first glance, Inmates looks like an interesting experience with a hint of an Outlast vibe. Sadly, that was not the case.
Inmates focuses on our main character, Jonathan, who wakes up in a jail cell without any knowledge as to how he got there. With a splitting headache and plenty of unanswered questions, Jonathan sets off to find some answers. When he stumbles across a familiar voice coming from an old radio, our main character quickly discovers that things may not be as they appear. You must stumble through the dark prison you have created to find your wife before it’s too late and escape with your sanity intact.
Let me begin by saying that this is a pretty short experience; it took me about 2 hours to beat the game (exploration included). Which isn’t a problem, but it might be a factor in why the overall story doesn’t make sense. I totally see what the developer was trying to do, and it is an interesting concept. However, the story lacks depth and the time needed to really flesh out the details. As a result, the game ends pretty abruptly without enough detail and explanation to really make you care about how the game ends.
The story isn’t the only thing that lacks depth. The gameplay is pretty straightforward as well, but not in the way you want it to be.While it controls easy enough, the game is basically a walking simulator with a few puzzles thrown in. The word “puzzle” is used loosely because they are pretty simple. By simple I mean that the solution can usually be found sitting right next to the puzzle or pretty close by. The puzzles don’t tend to lend anything to the story or its progression either. Most of the time, you’ll get locked in a cell and you’ll have to figure out a random puzzle in the cell to unlock it once again with no real explanation as to why.
The game’s graphics aren’t bad looking, but there are a few technical issues that get pretty annoying as the game continues. One of these major issues is whenever anything is spoken, narration occurs, or anything else in the world, you lose the ability to move. So, you must stand in place until the narration is over, eliminating the chance to progress when anything is happening. For me, it definitely broke the immersion of the experience, and only makes it feel more like a simulator than anything else. It’s a smaller complaint, but a complaint nonetheless.
But above everything else, the game just isn’t scary. Aside from general jump scares and the decrepit prison setting, there wasn’t much done to make the game scary. There was really only one time that I did get scared in the prison’s basement, and it was definitely a nice moment. Honestly, I don’t think that the environment was used to its full advantage when it came to the scares. With rows and rows of cells and dark corners, there were plenty of missed opportunities.
Overall, Inmates is a good attempt at a horror game. Its biggest flaw is its lack of depth, and this is a problem that many horror games run into. While the developer’s concept was interesting, he didn’t allow himself the time to include certain details or for the gamer to come to a conclusion on their own first. The game would much rather tell you something rather than show you something, and I think that’s one of its major downfalls. That being said, the fact that the game was made by one person is an impressive feat and one that I applaud. Hopefully, in the future, he gives his stories enough time to actually tell themselves.
VERDICT: Inmates is a psychological horror game that suffers from quite a few things. If I’m honest, the only reason I gave the game a two-star rating is due to the fact that most of it was made by one person. And that’s just impressive. However, the game just isn’t scary, the story doesn’t make much sense, and it suffers from a major lack of depth. The game’s concept is a good one on a broader scale, but it needed more time, detail, and thought to make it work. Overall, this would be a good attempt at a free horror title, but it isn’t worth the $10 price point.
- Made and developed by one person
- Lack of depth and story
- Poor gameplay
- Boring, pointless puzzles
- Expensive for the experience