The player characters are androids (termed "droids" in the game) operated remotely by a prisoner trying to free himself. The player assumes the role of the prisoner, and the game involves visiting and destroying a series of bases on different planets.
In the corner of his cell, which had doubled as a store-room, the prisoner finds a "briefcase computer" which gives him control over a group of four droids on a space ship. Now he must use these droids to find and free himself.
Controlled by the prisoner/player, the droids are firstly found in a spaceship in distant space (an interface using vector graphics), until ordered to land with a capsule on a planet. On each planet, the droids have to first locate the entrance to the base, then enter and explore 'dungeons' containing various puzzles and alien and robotic enemies.
A fully completed mission consists of ten bases followed by the space station; there is a room in the space station which houses Trill, and if the droids enter this room, the game gives the player the choice of freeing him and ending the game completely, or allowing the enemy to recapture him, starting another mission.
The most damaging weapon class, the "spayguns" (an unfortunate typo for "sprayguns"), only rarely appear in shops, and have the most expensive and heaviest ammo with the lowest capacity. One cannot carry that many tanks before the droid exceeds its weight tolerance.
The optics include:
The devscapes include:
It can be challenging for the first mission, as the droid body parts one can obtain become only slightly more durable as one gains levels, but once the player reaches the second mission and beyond, they should have "maxed out" on body parts and weaponry, and the enemy difficulty plateaus, so only through carelessness or bad luck should they be killed. The space stations, however, are always challenging, because the enemy droid units there take (and deliver) very large amounts of damage. It is also easy to exhaust one's ammunition if it's been too long since a shop has been visited, and shops are placed randomly.
The game was known as "Federation War" while in development, but a reader of ACE magazine came up with the name Captive in a competition.
"As a true RPG it has many of the drawbacks that Dungeon Master had (very little interaction, fictional combat etc). However, the gameworld is well designed, the plot and the opponents are imaginative and the puzzles are challenging with many thrills and spills to keep you on the edge of your chair.
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