Inmates by developer Davit Andreasyan and publisher Iceberg Interactive is a psychological horror game set in a worn-out, decrepit prison. It focuses on story, exploration, and puzzle elements to guide you to escape out of the disturbing situation you find yourself in.
Inmates does a great job at creating a creepy ambiance that adds to its psychological horror theme. Rather than just using scary music, there is mainly silence, ambient noises, and a bit of eerie music to amplify the disturbing atmosphere. The prison also contains a good amount of detail that adds to the game’s ambiance and makes the environment seem even creepier.
The voice acting in Inmates is executed better than many other indie games, but it still falls a bit short and doesn’t quite get all the feeling across, taking away from the game in that regard. Puzzle elements are also included in the game, but they aren’t too difficult and don’t require that much problem-solving skills to solve.
The main issue with Inmates is that you are very limited in the control of your character. Exploration plays a huge role in this game, but you can only walk to your destination. You cannot sprint, jump, or crouch – you must very slowly walk to wherever you need to, which makes the game’s pace exceptionally slow. This is a major hindrance and annoyance for the player. An example of this is during the introduction where there’s an extremely long walk up a winding staircase made worse by the player’s slow speed.
In addition to this, there are various items throughout the prison that you can interact with. This includes matches, notes, journals, and more. The downside to this is that some objects don’t add to the story or provide any sort of reward or benefit from interacting with it, they simply exist and can be examined.
The graphics of Inmates also seem outdated and low quality, especially the character models. To further add to the problem, the game is very, very dark, even with the brightness turned up to the max. This may be a feature so that matches can be utilized strategically, but it makes the game look worse since you can’t take in the setting and get immersed in it.
Since there is mainly ambient noises and quiet music in the game, there’s more of a suspenseful feel. That’s one of the few features that makes the game horror-like, because everything else doesn’t instill any sort of tense feelings. There are jump scares that are well placed, but it doesn’t create more fear while progressing through the story. The cutscenes in the game also kill any momentum you may have as it takes away control from the player, in both movement and the camera.
Overall, Inmates provides an interesting story and exploration in a creepy setting, featuring good voice acting for an indie game. This is all offset by lacking good movement, resulting in an extremely slow-paced game interrupted by frequent cutscenes, which only lead to frustration for the player.
Inmates is now available for PC via Steam for $9.99.