Into a Scary Graphic Novel Adventure with Captive

March 24, 2020 | Sessions | 6 comments

Explore the unexpectedly terrifying manor and world featured in the Graphic Novel Adventure, Captive.

After seeing my entire collection of Graphic Novel Adventures the other day, I realized I wanted to explore all of them. I only played through a few before, but also wanted to get through every gamebook in order to review and rank every adventure. I started off with Captive, which I completed last year. Would it still be interesting? I was about to find out!

Game Overview

Game Name: Captive
Publication Year:
Emmanuel Manuro
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)

At the start, a character must be created with the simple skills of strength, dexterity, and will. Although there are points to assign, there aren’t a lot of options.

The first time I played, I was fascinated with the twists and turns. However, those can’t stay exciting over time.

Into the Dark Manor

Perhaps I never was destined to love this gamebook. The theme is very dark, with the central element being a kidnapped child. Mature language and violence prevail.

But I still went back to my original play. It really was exciting, even amongst all the terror! I found hidden numbers, uncovered secrets, and wielded items.

I don’t want to spoil anything, yet keep in mind that this isn’t a straightforward tale of saving the child.

It’s a lot darker and features downright scary moments. I would only recommend this one to a mature audience.

A Unique Notebook

Often, a gamebook requires a lot of notetaking in order to piece together puzzles or advance the mystery. I was prepared to write down anything and everything!

However, my tools of the trade are as follows:

  • Scrubby Reusable Notebook
  • Staedtler Lumocolor Non-Permanent Marker

These are my favorites! There are plenty of pages, although each one is easy to clean after each use. I can write down whatever I like, then wash it all away to prepare to take more notes for something else.

Tracking Statistics

A lot of my character sheets usually end up in sheet protectors to be used over and over again.

In this case, though, there really wasn’t a need to even print out a character sheet. I had some other random ideas in mind to make it easy and use fewer materials!

The Badger Deck features all manner of suits and extended cards. It was easy to pick those up to represent the statistics. A health deck from 0-20 was also formed.

As for the time, I simply grabbed a tube of glass beads to easily add one as needed. Not too difficult, thankfully!

A World of Horror

Everything starts off well enough, but quickly devolves into a place built of nightmares. This sample panel is actually very tame compared to most of the elements.

I had an interesting initial play when my character walked into a sudden-death situation. Oh, my!

Even though I’ve played through the gamebook a few times, I was still genuinely terrified in certain places. That may or may not appeal to different players, though.

It all sort of came back to me as I traveled from panel to panel, and remembered most of the vital secrets.

Traversing the Maze of Corridors

I was a little disappointed in how many of the hallways acted like mazes in some ways. I forgot where I came from in some instances, and had to flip back and forth a lot. With some terrifying images, I wanted to quickly reach the end!

At the same time, I want to repeat how I’m likely not in the target audience for this specific gamebook. The very dark horror elements are definitely scary, though, and I know there are those who enjoy these aspects. The fact that I was genuinely frightened in a brightly lit room should indicate how well the gamebook nails its theme.

Just… Not so much horror for me! At the same time, I can still appreciate the gamebook for what it offers. 

Session Overview

Play Number: 5 and 6
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)
Required Play Space: 22″ x 18″
Setup Time: Almost None
Play Time: 10-80 Minutes per Play
Outcome: 0 and 38 (1 Loss and 1 Win)

After my initial death, I traveled through the adventure and completed it with the best score possible. Hurray!

Granted, it’s not so difficult to backtrack when a panel leads to a bad outcome. I didn’t want to keep restarting.


6 Plays


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


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Continue the Conversation

Have you played any gamebooks? What do you think of Captive? Although this pair of plays reminded me of some of the reasons why I might permanently retire it, I still have some fond memories from my initial experiences. Even when a game doesn’t work for me, I know there are others out there who will like it. I hope that holds true in this case!


  1. Another I have not heard of. Thanks for keeping up with all the great distilled reviews you are doing. I am definitely reading all of these.

    • Thank you very much, Todd! Technically, I have proper reviews currently on my to-do list for these Graphic Novel Adventures. Although my so-called sessions usually are mini-reviews. I can’t seem not to write a lot. Ha ha!

      It’s always great to read how my obscure choices help spread the word about some lesser-known titles. If all goes well, I’m hoping to continue steadily playing through my collection! So many solo board games, so little time.

      All the best to you!

  2. I did quite a bit of Fighting Fantasy back in the day… Lone Wolf… though the real prize for me was the Falcon series, time travel adventures with a pleasing combination of actual history and SF content.

    It’s not really been my sort of thing since – not that I didn’t enjoy them at the time, but I felt that I’d done that, and when various publishers started again recently I wasn’t grabbed. I feel that many styles of fantasy story are better handled by tactical boardgames like Descent or Gloomhaven (or indeed Gloom of Kilforth!), and if I move more in a role-playing direction from there I like to play the character rather than a game-mechanics challenge. Which isn’t really a thing one can do solo, or rather if one does one’s writing a book rather than playing a game. 🙂

    • Great thoughts, Roger. I’ve been meaning to give the Lone Wolf series a whirl, just to say I’ve gone through some of the gamebooks! How those escaped me during childhood still amazes me.

      It’s also interesting about playing the character vs. the game mechanics. I always feel like I want to do more with solo RPGs, yet a lot of board games seem to work well for me. It’s fun to try out new systems and find out what works, though!

        • Ah, yes! I downloaded everything ages ago, then allowed myself to get completely sidetracked. I played through the first book a couple of times and had a great time. Seems like I should get back on the Lone Wolf wagon and enjoy everything. Thanks for the link and reminder!


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