Inmates will try to scare the pants off you as you explore an abandoned jail.
The story is the best part of this game. I have not been able to finish the game, but it is an interesting story. You wake up without knowing what the heck is going on or where you are, so you set off to figure things out. It is a pretty standard plot, but it’s the details that matter such as little clues here and there as well as the delivery of said clues as well as main story points.
Inmates is a horror experience puzzle game. There’s no fighting in it, so if you wanted to just blast your way through things, your game is in another castle. In Inmates you walk around, look at notes, pick up matches, and solve puzzles. That’s the gist of this game. Unfortunately, you walk rather slow and there’s no way to speed up or even jump. This makes it rather tedious to get around in some areas, or if you need to backtrack it can feel ridiculously long.
One of my biggest complaints though is that there are times when the game jumps to a cut scene type sequence where your character stops moving and shows you what’s happening instead of it happening while you play. This is not always a problem, but there were moments that could have spooked me a lot more if my character didn’t just stop while an event happened. For example, I was walking down a hallway when I stopped walking and I saw all the doors open before my character could move or do anything again instead of the doors swinging open while I’m walking, without warning, letting me think something may come out and try to murder me that instant.
The environments look really well done and help suck you into the world. The people on the other hand look like they’re not quite polished and barely above Gamecube, Xbox, or PS2 graphics. Now, for all I know this is planned and part of the story, but it lowers the scare factor. Also, you see people throughout with shaking heads (which is part of the story), but at times the heads look less like purposeful shaking and more like the game is glitching. My biggest graphical complaint though are the books. As you go around the jail you find books all over the place, but 90%+ look like the exact same brand-new book with the title changed. This really brings me out of the world where everything else is rusted and in bad condition and looks like thought was put behind it, and then you have all of these books that look like they were lazily put together as a last-minute thought.
The sound is the second-best part of this game in my opinion. The noises made are perfect for creeping you out, and there’s no music to make it extra creepy. The ambient sounds such as rain or heavy breathing are absolutely spot on.
With a lack of difficulty options or choices during the game, it’s hard to see a lot of replay value in this game unless you fall head over heels for the story.
What Could Be Better:
Throughout the game, you collect matches to act as a light source and they do not work well. This is most likely by design, but a lot of the time they felt pretty worthless since matches don’t really project light, so you can’t see anything until you’re right next to it. Maybe trade out matches for a lantern, or a flashlight, or something that projects light more, but does not fully illuminate.
Also, I would’ve liked to know what my controls were when I paused the game. When I paused it, I could either resume game or quit. It would’ve been nice to be able to look at the controls so I could check if I was missing some action I could do.
Thirdly, if I can’t open a door, please have some indicator such as the main character saying something about it. There were many doors where he would say it was locked, but other doors I would go to interact with and nothing happened. No indication that it wouldn’t work, or anything. It’d be nice if at these junctions I was told I couldn’t open it as opposed to feeling like I ran into a glitch.
If you like these horror puzzle games you may want to think about picking it up when you have some extra change. If you don’t like horror games, skip this one. The story is interesting, but I don’t think it’s worth playing if that’s all you care about. This very much relies on the experience, and I would even recommend that if you do try this, do as much as you can in one sitting to really suck you in. A warning though, if you are prone to motion sickness, be careful with this game. Both my wife and I could only play this game for so long before we started feeling sick. That happens to me on other games so it is not game specific, but be careful.