Filler Games · Reviews

Review of Captive

pic4120713.pngGame: Captive

Published: Van Ryder Games

Designer: Emmanuel Manuro

Players: 1

Playtime: 30-130 Minutes

Play Type: Choose Your Own Adventure


You have just recieved a ransom note for your kidnapped daughter. Your instructions were to show up alone to a secluded manor or your daughter’s life would be in danger. While you approach the eery house your intuition is kicking in, and warning you to proceed carefully. You would be smart to listen to that inner voice as you explore the house and try to save your daughter.

Game Play:


Captive is a mixture between a graphic novel and a game. Players will create a character sheet for the main character at the beginning of the game that will outline their characters health and stats. Players will use those stats to determine the outcome of various trials during the book. If their health reaches zero, the players die and lose the game, having to restart from the beginning.

While reading, players will examine the various illustrations to make decisions about how their game will progress and what their next step will be. Players will first resolve any box text on the number box they arrive on. This may involve doing a trial that involves checking stats. If the box text does not kill the player or send them elsewhere, then the player investigates the room in the numbered image. They should be seeking numbers hidden in the images to help them move to the next room or interact with the room that they are in. When a player finds a number they flip to that image and interact with the box text. Repeating the process again.

This continues until either the player succeeds in the campaign or the player dies and has to restart their campaign.



The only component included with Captive is the book itself. It is a well bound book, that is small enough to easily be transported. The illustrations are fantastic in the game and give it a thematic and creepy feel. Players will feel suspence as they go through the game.

Only problem some people may see is that the character sheet is attached to the book, and thus players only have one copy which could become dingy very quickly if being used repeatedly. I highly suggest making copies of the sheet instead. This keeps the book pristine and makes it so that it can be passed along to others.

  • Easy to Play
  • Challenging to Win
  • Themeatic
  • Engaging
  • Interesting to Reluctant Readers
  • Easily Transported
  • Can Be Played in Short Time Periods


  • A Lot of Swearing in Text
  • Character Sheet can Become Dingy

Captive would be a great game for a person looking to have a quick game to spend some time with on the go. The best thing about the game is that it is portable and can be picked up and put done at any time. It would be great for someone who wants to spend time during their morning commute, while waiting for a meeting or to relax at the end of the day. It has no set up time and with a simple book mark or post it note, the game can be put down and picked up later.

Beyond the ease of play, the game also provides thematic gameplay in a way that many games without such depth of story miss. Players will easily become sucked into the world because the illustration’s style is impeccibly done. However, some of the images may be unsettling for those opposed to gore or violence. The game also provides many challenges, and players should expect to lose a couple times before getting a hang of the game. Acting recklessly will increase the chances of dying. Players will want to be careful to remember which path they took and what actions they interacted with each round to keep from making the same mistake twice.

The real reason I wanted to investigate Captive was my hope that it would be useful within the classroom. As an English teacher, I have my students start out their day with silent reading three times a week. Many of my students are reluctant readers and I was hoping that a choose your own adventure novel would be just the trick to capture their attention. Thus I did all of my reading of the book in the classroom in front of them. The students were captivated by the book, and my first day reading it in the classroom they huddled around the desk asking questions, requesting to read it next. This was the reaction I was desperately hoping for.

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Unfortunately, I cannot use this particular book from Van Ryder Games in the classroom for middle school aged students. The book  features a lot of swearing and language that would not be appropriate for a teacher to provide to younger students. The swearing was consistent enough that I couldn’t just blank out one word and be done with it. Beyond that, some of the pictures may be too graphic for younger children. If I was teaching upper high school students though, I would definitely use this as a way to help reluctant readers become engaged with a text. I will be looking into the other Van Ryder Games novels though in hopes that one will be appropriate for my students because they were so excited about them.

I highly suggest captive for gamers who are interested in horror and suspense themed games. It makes for a wonderful time filler, and also can be engaging enough to lose an entire afternoon playing. The story is engaging and players will want to find out the mysteries that unfold as they continue through the plot. The game reminds me of a condensed version of T.I.M.E. Stories, where players will be returning through the same plot multiple times and changing their actions accordingly. If you are a fan of T.I.M.E. Stories of any of the Unlock/ EXIT the Room games, you may also enjoy the graphic novels by Van Ryder Games.

3 thoughts on “Review of Captive

  1. Ah, it does seem rather unfortunate- although perhaps true to the theme, that there would be a little too much cussing involved. When I first saw your instagram mention of this game I was already pretty hooked. I like the hidden numbers aspect you mentioned in the frames, that’s pretty great! I generally like these kinds of choose your own adventure novels though and I’ve never seen one that was a comic book! I’ve mostly play the few I do on the computer these days. Actually, on that note, there was a project a couple years back that I was interested in for choose your own adventures from, I didn’t explore it as much as I’d like but you might find something there. I think they also created a program to help you make some of your own which might be fun for your students as a creative venture.


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