28/11/2017

☆ Review: Inmates - "Come on baby, light my match" ☆ #GameDev #IndieGame

Share This Post On Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share This Post On

Inmates - PC
Iceberg Interactive has published some great video games over the years, Conarium, Starpoint Gemini: Warlords, Darkness Within, The Lost Crown (and hopefully, one day before I wither away and turn to dust, its sequel Blackenrock) and many others. 

Inmates is the newest release from the publisher and whilst it does have nice moments, a great tagline and a very moody atmosphere, it isn’t up there at the tip of Iceberg’s catalogue.

Billed as a psychological thriller and played from a first-person viewpoint, Inmates covers ground very familiar to lovers of the horror genre. 

You play as Jonathan, who wakes up at the start of the game in a prison cell with no memory of events leading up to this moment. Game-play consists of exploring the facility and unravelling the mystery of his imprisonment, so far, so B-movie good.
Inmates really nails the atmospheric side of things. The graphics are strong, suitably horribly decayed and miserable with the sound design moaning and creaking alongside it. The brief glimpses of the sky shows a whirling maelstrom of greyness that makes you genuinely feel a prisoner in a seemingly abandoned prison and my play-through was bug-free and fluid apart from the lengthy loading times and occasional mid-level loading which only takes a second but is a little bit immersion breaking, a shame in this case especially as immersion is the game’s strong suit.
Unfortunately, the gameplay itself falls short and doesn’t live up to the initially intriguing (if relatively standard) premise and setup. Considering the game is so short (around 90 minutes) there is a surprising amount of back-tracking which makes one feel as if they are just walking around waiting to trigger an event to move the story forward. There are also no enemies in the game, the only thing stopping Jonathan from walking straight through are a series of puzzles and whilst a couple of these are fun and well-realised ( if quite simple), too many rely on flicking switches to get something open, they feel a cheap way of adding content.  The game features full voice acting which isn’t bad enough to be distracting but the lines are quite blandly delivered and again don’t live up to the game’s relatively high standard of the atmosphere.


Inmates is a dark game in terms of its lighting and the only sources of light available are boxes of matches, the graphics on lighting a match is really nicely done but I had several issues with the way they were implemented in the game. 
Firstly, they are too numerous. By the end of the game I had around 40 matches, they were EVERYWHERE. 

Secondly, objects in the game which are of interest (these are mainly matches and notes, which sometimes contain clues to puzzles but are mostly random bible scriptures and babbling, therefore more of an irritation as they are also too many of them in the game that has no impact on the story) are high-lighted anyway, so you don’t really need a light source to find them, the matches are only genuinely useful in a few small sections of the game, other than that it’s purely aesthetic. 

Thirdly…..each box gives you three extra matches…but when you pick them up and the camera zooms in on them, there are clearly four matches in the box and not three, it’s such a strange oversight to have the graphical depiction of the box slightly open so that you can clearly see that there are four in there, it’s a small thing but it did make me squint slightly.
As Jonathan moves through the prison, the story unfolds and whilst it is a quite standard fare, it did make me want to find out how the story concluded. However, another section of the game that made me narrow my eyes was when a friendly person whom you have been communicating with throughout the game over a radio gives you specific instructions on how to secretly enter a certain room that is blocked. However, when you work your way there, he strongly advises you NOT to enter, even though he was the one that led you to it. It may seem light a small niggle, but as the game is so short and you only occasionally interact with others, these things really stand out and feel awkward, as with a part towards the start of the game where you pick up a child’s diary and the character literally says, “This seems important….but I’ll read it later” and lo and behold it essentially unveils everything that’s going on, if only he read it fully when he picked the damn thing up!


Summary
Inmates isn’t a bad game,  it has a strong visual setting with amazing sound design and it doesn’t rely on constant cheap jump scares to unsettle  you (although there are a couple) and there are genuinely creepy moments, especially involving vigorous head movements, but the back-tracking and emptiness of the place can feel boring as opposed to eerie. 

On top of this, the story does have some nice ideas but they aren’t fully explored and feel a bit sketched out. 

If you are a fan of horror and want a quick blast of creepiness, at a few quid this may be for you but for horror veterans or people who want to be genuinely challenged, they will probably find it lacking for their tastes.
RATING: MELTING
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Inmates















Review By Britt