Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: Davit Andreasyan
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Release Date: October 5th, 2017
Look, I’ll be up front and say it; I’m probably the worst choice for reviewing a horror game. Granted, Inmates is more like an adventure game with occasional “scary parts”. But, just the same, I’m still not the best choice.
I… pretty much can’t say anything about the story. Inmates isn’t a terribly long game, meaning that what story is there is easily betrayed. For a very small development team, it’s alright, I suppose.
I’m not the greatest mark for such a game. I will say there’s sort of a Twilight Zone-like twist to it, which a lot of psychological horror stories love to use.
Gameplay-wise, it’s sort of bare bones. I spent a great deal of time trying to come up with a slightly nicer way of saying “Walking Simulator” before giving up. And Jonathan moves really slow. The puzzles are not hard.
Mostly since they give you the answer, usually in the same room. Even then, sussing them out poses little challenge. Except for the very rare times when the game breaks, and you start second guessing your (actually correct) answer.
There are really only three items: Anton’s Diary (only used for story scenes, otherwise completely inaccessible) two keys, and matches. Around the end of the game, I had nearly 60 matches.
They’re not used for anything other than illuminating dark areas, which isn’t as useful as it sounds as I’ll get into later. They’re not used for any puzzle solving, either, so they could’ve easily been replaced by anything else. I don’t think their place in the game was that well thought through.
The sound is okay, considering how small the development team, as well as the game itself, happen to be. It’s very ambient overall, though, so it’s really difficult to point to one thing as an examlple. The same can’t be said for sound effects.
Jonathan’s footsteps are always coming from your right (noticeable if you’re wearing headphones), and he never stops his heavy breathing. The cast is a little… stilted. They’re not the worst I’ve ever heard, but they’re not great. There’s just something with their delivery that’s “off” for the kind of emotional dialog they’re reading.
The graphics are a pretty decent use of Unreal Engine 4. When you can see them. The game is dark, and not in a good horror game way. In the bugging out my eyes even at max brightness way. The matches make things a little better, but at least your first time through, you think they’re more important than they are, so you hoard them.
Not like using them even when appropriate does much other than occasionally reveal some wall writing. Or, occasionally, help you find an interactable object. Things are hard to see in this game, but what’s there fits the bill at least. Also, the game (specifically cutscenes) runs poorly on my rig, but that’s true of most UE4 games in general, so that’s not really a mark against it.
Overall, Inmates was something of an underwhelming experience for me. Which is sad, since I hate feeling like I’m coming down on a small team. Especially when it seems like they, at the very least, have the creative drive. And they had a number of smart things in the game, if you picked up on them. But outside of a small niche, I can’t honestly recommend it.
“Inmates’ psychological horror may entice some, but its gameplay leaves a bit to be desired”
*We were provided a copy of this game for review*