December 26, 2009

Review: Trapped: The Abduction

game format: casual hidden object adventure

puzzles: none

playtime: 5 hours | difficulty: easy

developer: GOGii Games | publisher: Big Fish Games

links: Official site | Buy this game

Trapped: The Abduction
game brief: What was a regular day turned into a nightmare for a young woman who awakes locked in the back of a truck not knowing what happened, who she is, or what will happen next. What's worse is you are that woman, and it's up to you to crack puzzles, codes and escape traps laid out by this serial killer. Problem is, he is watching you all along and what seems like the exit might lead to another trap! (Official website)

review:

Trapped: The Abduction is a hidden object adventure based on the capture of a young woman by a psychopathic killer, and her efforts to escape his sordid den of booby-trapped rooms, gruesome mannequins, blood-stained medical equipment and assorted filthy odds and ends.

the story:

The protagonist, Helene, is kidnapped and taken to an unknown location in the boot of a car on a dark, rainy night. She escapes from the car, only to find that she's trapped in a bizarre building with no apparent connection to the outside world. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game of the worst kind as Helene tries to escape while her captor, a man in a black cloak, indulgently watches her on a bank of CCTV screens, taunting her on as she clears each macabre hurdle. From his words, its clear that she's not the first to be at the mercy of his crazed mind.

At the start, Helene cannot even remember her own name. Worse, when she was unconscious, the kidnapper removed some of her teeth and took an X-Ray of her head. But the game gets really creepy when Helene discovers a video tape - apparently made by her - that indicates that she's been locked in here for much longer than she'd thought, and that she'd tried to escape before... and obviously failed.

Sifting through methodically ruined rooms, Helene finds evidence of her mother having been trapped here as well, and personal memorabilia such a photo of her father. What had previously appeared to be a random crime now seems well planned, with a motive possibly even worse than perverse entertainment.

Helene's aim is to repair a car and escape, and if possible, collect evidence to explain the kidnapper's history and her capture. But getting past the seemingly endless chambers of horror is not easy, and her frustration and agitation often threatens to overwhelm her, for example, when she wishes she could smash him with a sledgehammer instead smashing a suitcase lock.

As a heroine, Helene is sophisticated yet sassy, often giving off a Rachel Green (wiki) vibe from the Friends series with her urbane voice and mannerisms. Her initial shock and outrage at being kidnapped quickly changes to horror as she explores the strange building, and eventually settles as a cold terror in the pit of the stomach as one disturbing fact after another tumbles out of grisly closets.

But Helene's no pushover, and her presence of mind truly wins you over as she rationally works through the puzzles with the gritty determination to escape... this time.

game-play:

The game kicks off with an interactive tutorial that is self-explanatory and clear even for newbies to the genre.

The basic game-play encompasses two distinct activities. Each screen (room) starts with a general hidden object search. These random objects (such as a tombstone in the kitchen) are described by the kidnapper as part of his scheme to tease his captives.

Part two of each screen, the specific object search, involves items required for the inventory puzzles to escape the rooms. The screens have sparkling hotspots marking interactive areas, and an easy-to-use inventory lists and displays useful objects as Helene collects them. Some objects are found only by locating and using other objects, which increases game-play difficulty, though overall the game is quite intuitive.

The inventory puzzles require engineering various devises such as light systems, furnaces, elevators and televisions. The game-play does get a bit monotonous due to activities that offer little in terms of variety - turn power on / off, search for keys and doorknobs, plug in appliances, fix taps, and so on. But with 30 unique locations, Trapped is one of the rare HOGs that doesn't repeat screens, and this keeps the player riveted despite the slow middle segment.

Some rooms also have special items, which Helene collects and stores in her backpack - items that provide her clues to her own situation, a large number of parts for her getaway car, and some evidence leading back to the kidnapper for use by the authorities.

The developers have invested a lot of effort to balance the taut storyline with a game length that doesn't feel 'too short'. And they've succeeded - Trapped is a game that stays with the player long after the objects have been found and puzzles have been solved.

art & graphics:

The visual detailing of Trapped is top of the line. The art is crisp and professional, and the cliparts are well-blended into their surroundings without being obscure. A vast clipart repository keeps the game from being repetitive and familiar, another big deal. Grotesque body parts and mannequins, along with innumerable other unpleasant knick-knacks, create an atmosphere of death and decay even in the absence of in-your-face blood and gore.

The only drawback, due partly to the game's concept, is the drabness of the screens, which are primarily a dusty brown. This makes them blend into each other and eventually creates mild boredom. But that's a nitpick given the quality of art and the effort put into making each screen unique despite being similar.

The cutscenes are ordinary by comparison, and only serve the purpose of providing interludes between levels.

text, sound & music:

The music of Trapped plays a subtle but effective role in building the game's creepy ambiance, ranging from disturbing to urgent. The sound effects are situational - glass breaking, wires sparking, and so on. A few well-placed screams provide the guilty pleasure of cheap thrills.

Helene's city girl voiceover is well-suited to her persona, and adequately expresses the entire gamut of her emotions. The kidnapper's menacing growl / leery sweetness, though, is comic-book and overdone.

The script is average, and the kidnapper in particular has a very limited set of phrases. Conversation is kept to a minimum, just enough to move the story forward. The subtitles are well-synced with the voiceovers.

bottomline:

The story of Trapped is unusual and compelling. It hooks you in with its quiet menace and the disquieting awareness that it may as easily be reality. Helene's cold competence in the face of death elevates the game beyond puzzles, to the domain of a true psychological thriller. It's, simply put, like watching a movie.

A definite weakness is the slow middle portion of the game, which drags with similar, drab rooms and lack of distinct activity. This drains the game of the tension built up by the eerie storyline, and often makes it an exercise in tedium instead of an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

Things pick up towards the end, with Helene's backpack rapidly filling with evidence - only to end anti-climactically, without answers or closure, obviously setting the title up for a sequel.

Which isn't such a bad thing, in this case.


g@mrgrl rating: 3.5/5
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Prosstory, Helene, 30 unique screens, art, detailing
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Consdrab screens, repetitive activities, anti-climactic ending
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Bugsa few typos - your instead of you're, too instead of to, etc.


This is an original review written by me. Please do not distribute / adapt the text and images in any way without my written consent.

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