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Captive - Review

Review by Jonathan O


Last edited:

This is a very simple game with a number of flaws, some obvious and some less so. The most obvious is the poor use of the screen, which means that, when a response to a command is given, it quickly scrolls out of sight. This could easily have been dealt with, as part of the screen is unused. An annoying sound effect can be dealt with by editing the BASIC code to delete the two relevant lines. (See comments on the parser for other flaws.) What will not be visible to the player is that the code is a computer scientist's nightmare - over 50% of the statements contain a GOTO or equivalent! Also, there is no use of functions or procedures, or long variable names (and all numerical variables are real, not integer). In fact, apart from those sound commands and some screen formatting, this could have been written for the Commodore PET. Given all this, it's surprising that there seem to be not as many bugs as you might expect. Even if those faults were rectified it would be a less than enthralling game. One nice thing, though, is that the map has a rather pleasing symmetry about it - I'm not sure if this was deliberate.

Parser/Vocabulary (Rating: 1/10)

It's our old friend the verb-noun parser, and the vocabulary is limited to about 25 verbs and slightly fewer nouns. Where an object has an adjective in its name, that adjective is always attached to the noun by a hyphen, which looks rather odd, and means that using just the noun will not work - it's best to use just the adjective (or the first three letters, which are all that is recognised). The oddest thing, though, is the way that movement is handled. GO is not recognised, so you just say N, W, E, S (no other directions are used). However, if you give a command which is not known, and which starts with one of those letters, it is taken to mean a move instruction, so that ENTER DOOR is interpreted as though you had typed E! This can lead to some confusing results (usually error messages, if you're quick enough to read them).

Atmosphere (Rating: 2/10)

There's hardly any. The time limit and messages about the noises you hear might give you a slight sense of urgency, but that's it.

Cruelty (Rating: Polite)

Apart from the time limit expiring, I only found four ways to get killed, all of which are easily avoided. And I don't think there are any softlocks.

Puzzles (Rating: 2/10)

Nothing very difficult, apart from how to leave the initial location (an easy guess-the-verb).

Overall (Rating: 2/10)

Nothing special (and I'm not even taking into account the issues about programming style - I just hope not too many people who typed this in thought it was a good example!)