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iPhone  header logo

Prisoner 84


For: iPhone

Prisoner in its own body

Product: Prisoner 84 | Developer: Hidden Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Adventure | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
Prisoner 84 iPhone, thumbnail 1
Critics of the modern penal system often argue that the lack of clear purpose and direction in a prisoner’s life and the depressingly restrictive environment of prison ruin what potential inmates might have.

It’s also said that a prisoner’s lack of control over his day-to-day activity leads to frustration and resentment.

It’s perhaps fitting that Prisoner 84 – a third-person survival horror game set in a prison –deserves some of some of the same criticisms.

I am not a number

The game tells the tale of an escaping convict – that’s you – who discovers that there are supernatural forces ravaging his place of confinement. Inmates and guards alike have gone all zombie-like, leaving a trail of unpleasantness in their wake.

This sets the scene for a trudge around the prison complex, locating key cards, shooting zombies, and hunting for clues that will help you to progress.

There are clear signs of promise throughout the game, such as a neat item manipulation system, which lets you rotate and zoom in to examine text (although, the item summary lets you know any relevant information anyway).

Then there’s the game's atmosphere, which is suitably creepy. Random scuttling noises and distant enemy moaning  is pretty disconcerting when heard through a decent set of headphones.

Repeat offender

Which is why it's such a shame that the game is riddled with flaws. The prison complex you find yourself in is ugly, basic, and laid out in a highly repetitive way. It’s easy to become lost as you walk through yet another samey block of cells, a situation that’s exacerbated by a lack of clear signposting.

The controls, too, are frustratingly restrictive. Movement is sluggish and unresponsive. Lining yourself up perfectly with the interactive action icons that appear on the screen is infuriating.

Combat is laughably poor: you pound the 'fire' button when your opponent is within range (of which there’s no way to tell) at which point they begin to disintegrate piece by piece like some kind of classroom science dummy.

There’s no way to reload your weapon until you’ve run out of bullets, and when you’ve used up your final clip – probably in the process of getting hopelessly lost – there’s no default melee attack on which to fall back, leaving you completely vulnerable.

There are glimpses of good in Prisoner 84, but sadly it falls into bad ways thanks to its stifling environments and troublesome control issues. Parole rejected.
 
Prisoner 84
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 26 July 2010
An atmospheric survival-horror romp with a couple of nice touches, Prisoner 84 is nonetheless a mess of indistinct corridors, sloppy controls and substandard combat
 
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