Johnathan wakes up in a prison, with no memory of how he got there and a pounding headache. He hears voices all around him and the place seems strangely familiar. Now he must use his wits to escape, or become just another of the facility’s Inmates.
Genre(s): Walking Simulator | Horror
Developer: Davit Andreasyan
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Release Date: October 2017
Played Main story
Purchase At: Steam
Inmates started off with a bad foot with me. Even ignoring that the developer upfront says it’s only about 3 hours short, instead of sending me straight into the action, the first five to ten minutes of the game are just climbing a set of spiral staircases while everything trembles and blurs your vision. That’s it, that’s how he decided to start the game, with a sequence so profoundly boring that it strips you of any goodwill and the will to move keep going.
But then, once this endless dream sequence ends you start the game proper, with Johnathan stuck in an empty but open cell in what looks like a derelict prison, complete with Christian and Satanic imagery in other cells, along with bible passages and actual bibles.
But there’s more to this place, even if the character doesn’t remember it and on leaving your cell you see the first of the apparitions that will haunt you for the rest of the experience. I use the word haunt graciously here as there is very little in the way of scares in Inmates, which the developer labels as psychological horror, yet at most, if you get any chills they will be from perhaps the first jump-scare.
Inmates, according to its developer is about solving mind-bending puzzles on the way to solving the larger mystery and while some of these puzzles were indeed interesting they were too few and too far in between, with most of the gameplay being just slowly exploring the facility and collecting matches to light your way.
First, I saw James Caan move faster in Misery after being hobbled by Kathy Bates. Johnathan is so damn slow that even reaching the end of the first corridor feels like a struggle, one that much like the opening sequence continues to strip away at your innate desire to continue investing in this video game.
Second, this is yet another title by a developer that doesn’t understand how light works. Seriously, from now on, if your game has matches or flashlights (torches for our British friends), then please go into a pitch-black room and see how light really works, how radii of illumination actually work. You’d be surprised how much the little flame from a match can light your surroundings. After all, candles and their little flames were the primary method of illumination before electricity came around.
But no, in Inmates you have a set of matches that don’t even light the wall inches from your face. What is the point of making me collect matches to light the darkness if they’re going to be so ineffective at their task?
Then again, despite using the Unreal engine, the drab environments don’t really offer anything interesting to see and in fact character models, the few there are, are extremely ugly and lifeless, so perhaps the bad lighting is just a way of hiding how dull everything looks.
But what really takes the cake here in turning this mediocre videogame into something profoundly heinous is the voice acting. Soulless doesn’t begin to describe it, and worse still is that the sound design is all over the place, with inconsistent character voice volume and what’s even more baffling, when you communicate with a character through a radio, their voice comes through clearer and louder than Johnathan’s. How do you explain that?
Inmates is utterly worthless and I’ve already spoken more about it than it deserves.
1/5 – Oh Hell No!