Kidnapped – Review The Tedious Horror of the Utterly Familiar

The original version of this text was first published on It has been republished here with permission.

Developer: Deceptive Games
Publisher: Deceptive Games
Format: PC
Released: August 4, 2015

It was a dark and stormy night. I awoke in an unfamiliar cellar, surrounded by garbage, blood and various torture devices. A narrator explained that I had been Kidnapped and that I must escape the basement to survive.

I then escaped the basement, only to find myself in a kitchen whose modern interior clashed somewhat with the rest of the house’s creaky, old-fashioned décor. Thanks to a helpful note I was made aware that the door to my freedom required five keys to open. The dense darkness made it almost impossible to find my way through the spooky manor, which wasn’t made any easier when I realised that the rooms had an uncanny habit of moving around at random.

It would soon become apparent that I was not alone in those dark corridors. Through my terrible flashlight I spotted a creature that sent chills down my spine. Luckily it vanished almost immediately and never seemed interested in searching for me. Except for that one time when it threw a football at me.

Five keys and a few jumpscares later I found myself in a mysterious cave for some reason. I was chased by weird wooden dolls whose faces beamed red in the murky depths and whose terribly programmed AI made them perpetually walk into walls in their pursuit of their prey. Luckily, I found a gun. Unluckily, the game glitched out, which prevented me from using it.

When I finally managed to escape the cave I ended up in a dark forest instead. The narrator advised me that I now needed to hunt for bears, deer and foxes – and who was I to argue? Once again it was nearly impossible to find my bearings in the darkness and I damned the higher power that had not allowed me the use of a map. Who was this barbaric entity that forced me to run around these completely incoherent environments, devoid of context or any connective tissue? It was probably the same heartless monster that made me constantly get stuck in the floor.

It was at that moment I realised that I had been staring the true horror in the face this whole time. The abandoned mansion, the dark tunnels, the pointless running back and forth through a nondescript forest at night, and the story that was at once non-existent and inexplicably pretentious. How could I have been so blind? Suddenly it was as clear as the moon in the sky: I was trapped in an indie horror game developed in Unity.

I should have noticed the signs sooner, but it was too late now. After an hour I had reached the game’s anticlimactic conclusion and I could finally leave Kidnapped behind, with a lingering sense that I had played a decently ambitious student project with only the surprisingly effective sound design and a few genuinely well-crafted scares stuck in my mind. Otherwise I saw it for what it really was; an incoherent mishmash of horror clichés.

And then the alarm clock woke me up – it had been a nightmare all along!!


Rikard Olsson Written by:

Sweden-born, England-based writer about video games that can otherwise be found on PC Gamer, and FeTT Magazine.