Captive is a 2D horror game on the PC (Steam) developed Dead Inside Studio ran by the one-man team of Igor Zanetti. It aims to capture the vibe of the “Escape the Room” games of the early 2000’s. For the most part I would say he accomplished this, however I would definitely say that the game is more of a puzzle game, with “horror” vibes sprinkled in.

The gameplay is relatively simple. You wake up in a bloody room with no memory of how you got there. As soon as you leave the room, it’s revealed that you are in an underground compound with five floors. You must search each of the floors for items to advance and unlock doors throughout the compound The catch to this is there is a thirty-minute time limit, you must escape within the limit or it’s game over.

The floors are all relatively small with one to three rooms in each. Items are spread-out throughout the floors and backtracking does become necessary due to this as you could get one item from the first floor, need to use it on a room in the third floor to get an item to open up a different room on the first floor. Though even despite this, the timer seems relatively pointless as you are given more than enough time to complete the game, even more so due to the fact that you can find another item in the game that expands your time limit. Just for reference, I finished with around 15 minutes left.

The controls are minimum. You walk and use Z to interact and Tab to pull up your inventory. They’re very basic controls but they are what the game needs as it is not too complex.

The atmosphere of the game is very well thought out. There is blood scattered about, a few bodies, and visions of people crawling towards you. My favorite touch is how you can interact with things in the environment akin to the old Silent Hill games where your character will have thoughts to input.

Despite all this though, I wouldn’t say it’s too scary as it’s a 2d game made in what I assume to be RPG Maker engine, and me personally, I just don’t find this art style or 2d games scary.

The non-horror factor is also apparent in the fact that aside from the timer, there is no agency in the gameplay. There are no enemies in the game aside from the timer, so after a bit of playing and you realize this and you say to yourself “Why be scared? Nothings happening except me finding puzzle pieces to escape”. It’s not to say you cant die, I died once, there was a key dangling from a ledge and it asked me if I wanted to reach and grab it even though it was dangerous and I said “Yes”, died, and promptly restarted. So you can die if you make dumb decisions, which the game makes clear are dangerous decisions, but that doesn’t mean there is really agency in the gameplay.

The story is okay. As I noted before, you wake up with no memory and have to escape, then once you escape.

*Spoilers* you walk outside and get to a bus stop, then get shot. It pans over to a cop and a lady and she says along the lines of “Yes officer that was her, she trapped and tortured me, is the devil incarnate” then it ends.

I find this silly, as you are clearly unarmed and hurt just standing still at a bus stop making no attempts at hurting anyone and I did not even see the officer, so I don’t think you should just be shot. To my knowledge in real life an officer would attempt to arrest you, not just take the word of a random civilian and shoot you. Other than that there is not too much story though, just some environmental storytelling of a dead guy on a table or blood scattered about.

Despite all my gripes however, if you look at it from the lens of “I want to escape this underground bunker” then buy it as it is a fun escape game and is fairly priced at two dollars on steam.

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