Captivity

by Jim Aikin profile

fantasy
2020

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Number of Reviews: 4
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Escape from the wizard's tower with a series of complex puzzles, October 2, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This was an odd game for me to play. Jim Aikin was an early favorite for me, as Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina was one of the first IF games I ever played, and I thoroughly enjoyed. I later tried other games like Lydia's Heart and found them complex and polished.

This game has a lot of excellent coding and and overall clever design, but I feel it didn't quite rise to the level of the earlier games (which makes sense, as they were designed for a grander experience than can fit into the comp).

You play as a young woman who is captured in a tower, and where your kidnapper is planning on raping you. The game heavily emphasizes this in the opening scene and content warnings, giving the player a sense that perhaps the seriousness of this crime will be justified in the story. But in the actual game, nothing at all depends on the duke planning to rape you. The story could just have easily had you kidnapped for any reason whatsoever and it would have made no difference at all. So I'm not sure why the rape is dwelt on so heavily.

Many puzzles require nonstandard actions, usually involving examining scenery items that are in the middle of room descriptions and discovering extra parts to them, using special verbs (in at least two puzzles, EXAMINE doesn't work but closely related verbs work).

The characters are well-differentiated and have interesting conversation, but for me at least they had all conversation topics available at the same time; so, for instance, I was able to ask the cook about things that I had never heard of, and which I later heard of from another character, and which were involved in puzzles I was very far away from, providing a sort of spoiler.

Here's my final score breakdown:
+Polish: The game was very polished. Most of my issues were with interactivity, not with overall polish.
+Descriptiveness: Characters were well-differentiated and there were a lot of little details.
+Would I play it again? Yes, especially since I feel it has more secrets than I discovered.
-Interactivity: I found myself fighting the parser a lot, and I feel that several of the puzzles were designed in a way that didn't click with my brain.
+Emotional impact: I wavered back and forth on this, but in the end, the game made me feel a lot of things. I wouldn't have played through this slowly and analyzed it the way it did if it didn't have an overall effect on me.