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Captive Universe Reviews
Author: Mischav Navoritch
Date: 2001

Reviewed by David Whyld

In Captive Universe, Mischav Navoritch's only ADRIFT adventure, you begin the game trapped in a cell, imprisoned there by the local priests when you spoke out against their rule. Everything you know, your whole world, lies in the valley, a large area from which there is no escape; the only way out is blocked by the Boulder, a huge stone dropped there centuries before by the Gods in punishment for an untold crime. No one has ever escaped from the valley before, but you intend to be the firstů

Based on Harry Harrson's novel of the same name, Captive Universe is an engaging, if frequently frustrating, game. Though relatively straightforward to begin with - escaping the cell you start off locked in is childishly simple and says little for the efficiency of the priests - it rapidly becomes a very difficult game to make much progress with due to there being a liking on the part of the writer for killing the player off every five seconds. Often it's 
nightmarish just moving from one location to the next without getting yourself killed in the process. Randomised events leading to the player dying add further to the difficulty factor - sometimes travelling through one location is perfectly safe, other times it leads to certain death. Naturally there's no way of knowing beforehand (at least not that I discovered) just when it's safe to venture into a specific location and when it's not. As such I tended to die a lot of times and even though I was saving my game every few moves just in case, it still becames a pain when it was happening for the fifth time in as many minutes. Admittedly, there's a hint right at the start of the game that tells you of the best way to avoid getting killed but as this incurs a whopping 356 score penalty it's probably not advisable to try it out!But bad points aside, what of the game itself?

It's well written and has a quite impressive atmosphere. The majority of the puzzles are reasonably straightforward and don't require too much thought to figure them out although as mentioned before the hardest part of the game involves random deaths. Often it seems you're just about to make a bit of progress and then a guard appears from out of nowhere and kills you. This might be acceptable if it happened once or twice or if there was some way to avoid it, but it really brings down what is otherwise a fairly decent game.I haven't finished Captive Universe yet and haven't reached the later stages of the game but what I've played so far, random deaths aside, was well worth playing.

Logic: 7 (out of 10)
Fairly logical. 

Bugs: 10 (out of 10) 
None that I could see - unless the random deaths are a bug?

Story: 6 (out of 10) 
A fairly engrossing one although the background could have done with a little more fleshing out. The Boulder is blocking the way out of the valley as a punishment for some crime - what crime? 

Characters: 3 (out of 10) 
Perhaps the least part of the game. There are only two actual characters - your mother and the village smith - and neither have much in the way of programmed responses. None of the many guards who frequently pop up and kill you have anything to say at all.

Writing: 7 (out of 10) 
Stylish in places and with a definite flare for description.

Game: 5 (out of 10) 
An above average game let down by a penchant for killing the player every few seconds.

Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.


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