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Inmates Review (PC): Indie horror goes to prison

In the run-up to Halloween 2017 you can expect a slew of horror games to hit the Steam store, ready to put the willies up gamers who love a slice of terror with their late-night play session. One such title is Inmates, an atmospheric indie title designed and coded by one-man-band Davit Andreasyan.

Inmates follows in the footsteps of fellow creepy adventures such as No 70 Eye of Basir and Conarium. You play as Jonathan, a very confused individual who wakes inside of a seriously run-down and seemingly deserted prison, with no idea of how he got there. His only clues come from scattered notes left lying around, although most of these seem to be either utter gibberish or bible quotations. Luckily you soon find a child’s diary which reveals more than it initially lets on, while fleeting and harrowing visions also help to piece together what’s actually going on.

Then there’s the mysterious broadcasts that you pick up on the radio, from the prison’s doctor. But where is the fellow - or is he just a figment of your imagination, like the strange spirits you see in the grimy cells?

So far, so familiar. Horror is quite an overstuffed genre, so it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a lot of Inmates’ ideas in some other form by now. For instance, almost all of the ghostly figures feature rapidly vibrating faces, a trick seen in countless scary movies in recent times.

All the same, this short adventure offers enough chills and ‘daww, you got me’ jump scares to warrant a playthrough, if you’re a fan of the genre. We’re definitely fans of the audio in particular, which picks up during tense moments and is sinister enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. And although the presentation is sometimes a little shonky, the end result is pretty solid considering the tiny development team.

Gameplay is linear and mostly involves exploring your environment. You’ll find plenty of stuff to read and also pick up dozens of boxes of matches, which come in very handy indeed. Some rooms are so dark that the only way to get around is to strike a match with a click of the right mouse button. Thankfully Inmates is generous with the supply, so you shouldn’t even come close to running out before the end.

You’ll also have to solve the occasional puzzle to progress. These for the most part are well constructed and fun to solve. Inside the prison you’ll be confronted by quite bog-standard brain-teasers, such as flicking switches to open a door and move to the next area. However, you’ll also encounter dream-like segments whenever the dastardly prison guard Roy catches you. These are more surreal and definitely more interesting to solve, although adventure gamers shouldn’t be stumped for more than a minute or so.

Overall, Inmates is very short (no more than four hours of your time will be needed before you see the ending), while a fair chunk of that time is simply spent wandering around and searching for matches and weird notes. Still, the creepy audio and effective jump scares make it a worthwhile way for horror fans to spend an evening.

You can pick up Inmates right now on Steam. Check out some of our other PC horror game reviews and round-ups below:

Empathy Path of Whispers review

Best PS4 horror games

Best Nvidia Shield horror games

Best horror games for iPad, iPhone and Android

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