‘Tis the season for ghosts, goblins, and… Possessed prisoners? To kick off spooky season, I played Inmates, an upcoming game by Davit Andreasyan.

You play as Jonathan, a guy who wakes up in a prison cell with nothing but a massive headache. He knows who he is, but not where he is, nor why he happens to be there. Your goal is to discover exactly why Jonathan has forgotten basically everything except for his name, and his wife’s name. The game takes you through a prison full of puzzles, spooky looking prison friends, and LOTS of dark corners.

Note that I’m not going to go into storyline, because that will take away all the fun from players. Now lets break this down, shall we?

The Basics

I never realized how much I loved many stereotypical horror/puzzle genre game mechanics, until they were gone. There were some pretty interesting items that you come across throughout Inmates, and I would have loved to take a closer look at them. Unfortunately when picking up an item, you weren’t able to move it around and look at it. You also couldn’t revisit written things that you had found, and as a person that loves to go back over details, this was pretty frustrating.

If a game developer takes the time to make an item obvious enough to pick up, I assume that it will be detailed and interesting. Maybe the inside cover of the text book has some writing, or it has an interesting bookmark that your character pulls out… Not just looking at the title and then setting it back down (and then finding that book repeatedly).

 

Not having the ability to run was killer. A lot of what you do is going back and forth through areas that you have already scoured through, so running down cell platforms would have been awful nice. Instead I was going from one end to the other at a snails pace, totally taking me out of the “lets get to work” mindset.

Also, when exiting a puzzle, you are supposed to right click. That is also the mechanic for lighting a match. Unfortunately matches are a finite resource so it was painful when you would right click out of a puzzle and light a match. This happened only sometimes, so maybe I just have bad luck. I wasn’t worried about running out of matches later on in the game, but it was pretty painful wasting matches starting out.

The Characters

I’m going to be honest… This game had the weirdest game physics I’ve ever seen. We’ll start with Roy, the security guard. Roy happens to be the guy who puts you in your place when you step a little out of line. When warned about him, I thought “Where the heck do I hide?!” Without the ability to interact with your surroundings and hide anywhere, you are a sitting duck when Roy comes running. My problem? It looks as if Roy comes moonwalking at you. My first interaction with Roy had me laughing which completely broke the horror mood.

The other inmates weren’t very spooky. They were pretty basic and lacked any kind of scary detailing. Their movements were repetitive and odd, so nothing was added to the gameplay or ambience by them being there. I also had a good laugh at what I call “the booty smackin’ physics”. One prisoner in particular was hanging by his neck, and not only was the collar disappearing into his neck (not in a gory way either), but he was smacking his own backside.

The Puzzles

These puzzles weren’t terribly challenging, but did require some attention to detail which I personally like. If puzzles are too intense they take you out of the horror mindset and throw you into “I’m about to rage quit” mode. Because of the graphic quality and movement speed, I can think of one particular puzzle that was just obnoxious. At that point all I wanted was to get back to the story line, not go back and forth second guessing my swirl picking capabilities.

The Senses

When a game description says “high-quality graphics powered by Unreal Engine 4”, I expected Inmates to be on the same tier as Dear Esther or Vanishing of Ethan Carter… Not Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Maybe I have been spoiled, and expect an insane amount of detail wherever I turn?

When the cut scenes kept coming on, I was about to shut off the game. It wasn’t that they were bad cut scenes, it was that my control was taken away from me. When the earth is shaking, rocks are falling, and I’m trying to figure out what is happening, I want to look! I want to at least move my visuals and see what the heck is going on! While in some games I can see lack of control being a useful mechanic, this was not the game to do it. Or when I’m looking behind me but step across a certain line, I don’t want to be jerked into a cut scene that now feels forced and unnatural.

The Details

When it came to sound, for the most part, Inmates rocked it for the most part. While I was creeping from cell to cell in the beginning, hearing voices in other cells and drips of water put me on edge. Was there someone in the next cell? Were they going to have a problem with me? My mind started racing.

Inmates had all kinds of little hidden messages and oddities, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There were plenty of science diagrams to investigate and wall writings to look into. Could I interact with those objects, or observe them in detail? No. The graphics were good enough that I could see the fine print, though, so I was still happy.

Once again, though, there were basics that weren’t being met. Multiple times I managed to trigger double dialogue, and I retraced my steps which caused me to be forced into repeating a time consuming puzzle. That was what actually caused me to turn off the game.

The Conclusion

When it comes to psychological horror games of this nature, players have been accustomed to certain mechanics and attention to detail that I don’t think Inmates has. Granted, this is pure opinion. If you are someone who hates long notes and rotating items every which way, you’ll love the simplicity of it.

There were also some issues with cut scenes and audio that really got to me. Being suddenly brought into a cut scene was pretty jarring and took me out of the mood of the game (which is oh-so-important in this genre). Double dialogue? No thanks. Hearing issues with audio caused me to disregard the things Inmates did well, like the pitter patter of raindrops or lightning bolts that lit up your screen and headset. The sudden hiss of steam as you walk by? Love it. But does that make up for the booty-smackin corpses? Unfortunately, no.

Inmates is a game that I will definitely give another shot, but for now, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Will you enjoy it? Perhaps! Go check out Inmates on Steam now, and give it a whirl.

Inmates Review
The Good
  • Non-tilting puzzles
  • Interesting story
  • Hidden gems
The Bad
  • Lacking detail in the right places
  • Bugs
  • Jarring cut scenes
5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Lexie P.
Editorial/Review Staff

Lexie’s love for video games started early when she was rarely seen without her GameBoy, and traded Oreos with the neighbor kid to play his N64. Throughout the years Lexie has developed into a PC gamer, specializing in horror and MOBAs. She has been a game writer for a few years now and has previously worked at PAX West.