Captive is a classic Tony Crowther game, published by Mindscape in 1990. It is a futuristic, first-person RPG/action game in the style of Dungeon Master.
At first I didn’t really much like the game – I thought the graphics were dated and garish and the controls finicky – BUT… after a bit more reading/research I managed to get a foothold in the game and I really started to enjoy it.
The premise is: you’re a captive, tapped in a cell, with access to a special suitcase from which you control four robots. The robots begin on a spaceship, somewhere out in the cosmos, and you can send them to various planets to explore, fight monsters, destroy bases, accrue money, and expand their experience and capabilities.
The tricky thing is: it’s not entirely straightforward to get set up and going. You begin the game on a map of space and must click on a planet, send your ship of robots into orbit around it, then land on the planet. Then, once you’re ready for action, you must initialise your robots by plugging a chip into their heads and naming them. This step is easy to miss, and if you do miss it and continue on, your robots will be weak and ineffective in combat and you’ll die quickly and will probably rage quit (and never play the game again, like some people). The name you give your robot is actually important – it is the seed for generating its stats and personality – so it’s worth experimenting with (note: try entering “ZAK” as the name of each robot and see what happens).
Movement and combat in Captive are simple enough – a combination of mouse and keys and right and left-clicking icons (in the same way as Dungeon Master et al). There are some neat touches in Captive, though, like sticking your hand in plug sockets which allows you to fire electricity bolts from it! Beware, though: trying to pick up an item with a charged hand will permanently destroy it so you have to be careful to discharge the hand before picking anything up.
Captive is a game that is full of under-the-surface detail and is very absorbing once you get into it. It’s also a game with many idiosyncrasies, meaning that not everyone will like it. It is definitely worth persevering with, though, because it really is a great game. I highly recommend reading up about the game before playing it as it will help get you going quicker and negate any confusion.
Atari ST and PC MS-DOS versions were also released. The ST version has fewer colours than the Amiga version (but plays just as well), and the PC version has an intro sequence. Otherwise, they’re pretty much identical.
More: Captive on Wikipedia