Captive by Graphic Novel Adventures – Review

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Theme and What is it?

It has happened. Every parent’s greatest fear. You receive a ransom note from someone who has kidnapped your daughter while she was walking to her swimming practice. Your heart stops. You are surprised at the clarity you feel as you read the note. That is the exact opposite of how you think you should be feeling. Before you get to the ominous closing line of the note, you have formed a plan in your mind. You see what you must do to save your daughter, and you know the tools that you will need to accomplish this. In fact, you have already decided how you are going to make this person pay for this, and it’s not going to be very sane. 

Captive is a graphic novel-based adventure game for one player.

Gameplay Mechanics

Captive is set up much like classic Choose Your Own Adventure books. You move through a story and select which options you would like to take. Unlike the old books, Captive is a graphic novel that gives you options in just about every frame. You have a character sheet on which you keep track of your health, the amount of time that has expired and any objects you find along the way that you want to carry with you. 

Initial Impressions

I read every Choose Your Own Adventure book I could get my hands on when I was a kid. When I saw Captive, I knew I wanted to give it a try if for no other reason than nostalgic purposes. It did not disappoint. It took the genre and added the graphic novel element and provided a mature story (I will talk more about this in the Age and Weight section). I was engulfed by the whole experience. I went through the story twice and died horrible deaths each time. After the second try, I looked at the clock and an hour and a half had passed and everyone was in bed. A big thumbs up for keeping me engaged so fully!

Game Build Quality

This is a hardback book. It has separated from the spine. It should be something I can fix with some glue. I had played the story five maybe six times and Ally was going through it when it split. I would like to see more support on the spice because you are always flipping back and forth all over the book. Most books are not made to take stress like that. 

Once I have it glued back down, I will continue to play it because I still don’t think that I have “beat” it. At least I haven’t found any happy endings yet.

Artistic Direction

I love the art! It is dark and ominous. It feels heavy like it needs to because the guy’s daughter got kidnapped and he wants revenge. That’s a heavy subject. There is great attention to detail found in the art. One of my favorite frames is where the main character enters a hallway. Instead of looking at him from down the hall way or above the hallway, the viewers perspective is looking from his point of view at a mirror at the end of the hallway. You see all the doors and the options you have from that perspective.

Fun Factor

The great thing about Captive is how drawn into the story it allows you to become. The book has a simple initial backstory.  This allows you to jump right in and start to discover the real story line that you learn piece by piece as you move through the game. Since the main character really doesn’t understand what is happening you, as the reader, learn about the back story as he does. 

There is a lot to explore as well. I still haven’t found items that may make a difference at certain points of the game. I am not sure if there is only one path to an ending, or if you can get there multiple ways. My guess is that you can arrive by a few different options based on choices you make and items you find. 

Age Range & Weight

This has an age recommendation of 14+. I would totally stick to that. This isn’t a book kids need to be involved with. There is some minor language and a great deal of graphic violence. When I first started, my daughter followed along for a few pages. I told her that she needed to go find something else to do and after I had gone through more of the book, I would let her try it if I felt it was OK. The next morning, I told her that she would have to wait a few more years before I was comfortable with her reading this story.

The weight is super light. You make choices based on the options that are presented to you. Not much more than that.

Conclusions

I totally enjoyed Captive. Ally and I have even played through it together making choices based on what we have each learned from our individual attempts. The art pulls you in and the story dangles these interesting little tidbits that make you want to investigate further. My only concern was the pages separating from the spine, but that should be a quick fix. It didn’t take anything away from a really great experience. I came to Captive for nostalgic purposes and left wanting to find more books like this one.