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Inmates is a story-driven, atmospheric psychological horror title developed by Davit Andreasyan and published by Iceberg Interactive. The game hit Steam just a couple days ago and we are lucky enough to publish a review of it.

“The most frightening thing about Jonathan’s nightmare is that he may not be dreaming…”

First things first: The most charming and noteworthy part of Inmates is the idea behind the game. Inmates puts us in the shoes of Jonathan who wakes up in a run-down prison cell with no memory of being there. Our main mission is to get out of this prison alive, obviously, yet this prison is nothing like you’ve seen before. This prison is a place out of our nightmares and not knowing how we got there makes everything worse.

Like we all would do, Jonathan finds an easy way to keep his sanity where it belongs: he chooses to believe that this is all a nightmare. Does he know that you can not read in your dreams? Does he know that each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time in a dream? Clearly not, since the game is filled with papers you can read and clock puzzles you must solve. Well, Jonathan, you should know more and we must ignore these solid facts and enjoy the game.

Being in an empty run-down prison reflects the feeling of suffocation well enough. Shortly after we start to walk and explore the prison, we start to see familiar things which you must not come across while you are in a prison. A child’s journal or a wooden horse are everyday objects to some, but clearly not to someone who is in a prison. So, we know that there is something else going on in here and we hold on to the idea of being in a deep, deep REM cycle.

Exploration is a huge part of Inmates and this is the way we reveal the story behind it. Most of the empty cells contains papers and writings to read, symbols to figure out and matches to collect. Some of them will lock you in and in order to go out, you must solve a puzzle inside. And some of them will send shivers down your spine.

Inmates is not one of those horror games we’ve seen lately. It does not require you to run like a mad man or hide like someone is after you. You need to explore and check every corner of the game in order to get out of this place.

The Pit and the Bell

Even though the game starts with a very promising and well designed scene and atmosphere, I am afraid it is not something the creator was able to maintain during the game. From the depths of a frightening pit and with the threading sound of a bell, we step into the repetitive environment of Inmates. You open your eyes at the bottom of a pit and start to climb the endless spiral stairs. While you are making your way up, the ground shakes below your feet. People, souls or inmates, whatever you want to call them, are trapped in hanging cages. Are you going to share the same destiny with them? Well, there is only one way to find out.

With no doubt, I can say that the environment is well designed, especially in the beginning. But, after a while, you may find yourself in a repetitive environment with no catchy soundtrack or music. Every cell you visit exactly looks the same except the items in them. The beginning scene was highly promising for a one-man job with both its sound and weird atmosphere, yet soon you realize that you can not say the same thing for the game in general. Apart from that, the game succeeds to keep you tense and even nervous.

The opening scene achieves to stick with you and you can not shake the feeling that it tells you that it means something which will be uncovered later. What was the meaning of that? Who are the other inmates? Why there is a constant headache and why there is a child’s journal in a cell? Hoarded questions and an uneasy feeling, you try to make it alive out of this prison.

When it comes to puzzles, I can say that they are pretty easy to solve. Even when it looks hard, you need to think the simplest solution and give it a go. You will be surprised by how easy it was. The trick behind the puzzles, to me, is that they look hard.

Sir, you should get your head checked. 

The game succeeds to keep you on the edge with the ‘others’. You see, there are others in this hellish prison, inmates like yourself. Yet, they have glowing eyes and their heads move in a weird way, shaking insanely fast. But, instead of being scary except the times when they walk towards you; they look bugged.

They could be scary since moving in a way we are not used to always freaks us out. But like I said, being clumsy prevents us from being scared. You get used to it real fast and the inmates become just weird guys standing on the corner for you after a few times. But why are they here and what are their purposes are the questions you must solve.

Apart from these dudes, we encounter weird markings and symbols on the walls, some objects and books you can examine in the cells. While looking around and exploring to see such things, you need to use the matches you’ve found. Since it is pretty dark and there are key items to find, you must always have matches with you. They are not rare, yet they last a very short time –shorter than a real match, actually.

The power of the man who would be king

I’ve mentioned that Inmates was created solely by Davit Andreasyan and during your gameplay, you may find yourself telling that very often. The repetitive environment, the clumsy AI and some technical issues will give it away. Even Jonathan will not sound afraid enough when it comes to voice acting. I can imagine how this game could be and it makes me excited, and I hope that I would be able to lay my eyes on it one day.

In the light of these, I can say that Inmates is a very promising title and I can see a great effort in that work, but it feels unfinished and you can feel that it needed a little more time and effort. The idea and the uneasy feeling during the gameplay satisfied me more than anything, yet some technical issues like AI and voice acting may easily distract you from the gameplay.

Inmates is now available on Steam with 10% discount. If you want to take a look, you can visit here.


Positive
  • A great idea
  • The uneasy feeling
  • Somewhat intriguing story
Negative
  • Even though the tension is high, it is not a horror title
  • Needs polishing
  • Puzzles may not satisfy some
  • Repetitive environment

Inmates was reviewed using the Steam key provided by the publisher.

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