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Psygnosis have joined the recent throng of adventure releases with this offering. Tina Hackett goes on the trail of Innocent until Caught's anti-hero, Jack T Ladd.


Adventure games are a a popular genre and many titles are released constantly, all clamouring for a place in our collections. Psygnosis, however, are relatively new to the adventure game scene, their only other similar offering being the excellent Hired Guns, a 3D, horizontal parallax effort, set from a first-person perspective.

Developers DMA Design were the brawn behind Psygnosis' first attempt but for this release they've called upon the skills of Divide By Zero. A two-man development team, Divide By Zero have tried to create a game inspired by a more theatrical view point but with total player involvement.


We find ourselves in the future, on the planet Tayte taking on the character of Jack T Ladd. His name actually gives you a good idea as to the main theme to the game. As an average Jack the Lad, his character traits are all those that you would find in your stereotypical lad, plus, in this case, tax evasion and all manner of misdemeanours against the state.

His indiscretions have been spotted by the IRDS (the Interstellar Revenue Decimation Service - a corrupt and powerful federation department) who are none too pleased with Mr Ladd's activities and give him 28 days to come up with the money to compensate for his wrong-doings.

Punishment for failing to do this results in some unpleasant form of torture, so Jack heads for the nearest bar planet to drown his sorrows, armed only with his tax demand. You, taking on the role of Jack, need to visit all manner of locations and interact with the various characters to raise the necessary cash.



As Innocent Until Caught is your typical point 'n' click adventure it is inevitably going to be compared to releases like Monkey Island and its sequel. The game does to some extent try to emulate this title in that humour is incorporated at every available opportunity, but while Monkey Island was witty, Innocent is at times crude.

First impressions seem to suggest that you're embarking on the thinking man's Leisure Suit Larry, with its seedy locations and style of humour, but whereas Leisure Suit Larry was a title designed for the odd giggle, this one seems to try to hide its blatant double entendre-ridden street humour under the guise of a serious, atmospheric adventure.

The jokes such as "Are you over 21? - what. Years or centimetres?" wear a little thin after a while. The recent hit Simon The Sorcerer wins over Innocent both graphically and in humour, and Beneath the Steel Sky compares more favourably in both its atmosphere and its puzzles, which require a lot more thought than Innocent Until Caught's rather linear approach.



A storyline based around tax evasion is certainly a novel one for a computer game but throughout history the notorious stories of tax related problems and evasion are in abundance. Tracing it right back to the tales of Robin Hodd, one of the oldest cases of taxation problems occurred when King John charged his peasant subjects over the odds in tax.

Modern times are also ripe with cases of tax evasion, especially those of the rich and famous. More recently you may remember the entertainer Ken Dodd was in the headlines for allegedly defrauding the Inland Revenue. He was acquitted in July 1989.

Others have not been so fortunate. Lester Piggott, the successful British Jockey, was jailed for three years in October 1987, after admitting a huge £3.1 million tax evasion swindle. Innocents' theme plays on our fears of the future, of misuse of governmental powers and on a topic that affects us all, rich or poor.



The soundtrack has obviously been composed to complement the gloomy, futuristic atmosphere and does to some extent do this. However, it is so lacking in appeal that reaching for the volume control is the only viable option.

It soon becomes disappointingly apparent that the game lacks any sound effects. The game would have benefited enormously from the inclusion of some form of effects rather than the dire accompanying tune.




Innocent Until Caught is a visually stunnign game and a great deal of detail has gone into the backdrops. The graphics are in a style that rather than trying to create total realism opts for a more stylised, sketched look.

This works well in creating the futuristic feel of the game. The layout of the screen is clearly presented and so vital action is never missed. The auto-mapper screen becomes a very useful feature especially when you need to make a hasty exit.

However, the inventory screen has been badly designed in that you simply place all collected objects on the panel. After a while the panel becomes very cluttered and some of the objects become obscured so it is easy to miss some of your inventory.

The screen also updates at a painfully slow rate at certain points in the game which spoils the flow and becomes frustrating.




While Innocent Until Caught is in the main a blatantly mediocre adventure game, the many locations and film-based style of story add interest to this title. The sub-plots and episodic style of the game work well and provide some variety.

Its longevity is marred by the puzzle element which is a little too straightforward. For example, a character will tell you an object they want, you will find it and then be rewarded with an object another character wants.

The control system also leaves a lot to be desired. The mouse pointer needs to be placed very precisely before it will let you carry out any action. It is also very slow to recognise what you wish to click on. The style of humour, although an unusual novelty at first, becomes rather tedious and verges on the immature.

The interaction with other characters is at times a little predictable and slow. Innocent, although not highly original in its approach or gameplay, does have its worthwhile moments and does evoke some feeling of excitement when you think you're on the verge of discovering another clue.

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Is the bawdy world of Jack T Ladd a graphic thriller, or is it just a sad variation on the Carry On Theme? We reveal all.

There was a time when all graphic adventures were measured against the incredibly high standards of the Monkey Island games. Now Beneath A Steel Sky has set new standards, so how does Innocent Until Caught compare? What can it offer that we haven't seen before?

Initial impressions are that it's as dull as a scene from LA Law and, as you find out more about your in-game persona, it emerges that the scenario has all the puerile humour of a Benny Hill woven into a futuristic Film-Noiresque setting. The result? Virtual Pornography, CensoRound and more double entendres than on a camping trip with Julian Clary.

The protagnoist Jack T Ladd (ho!, ho!), is so utterly unlikable that after a few seconds you really can't be bothered to help him at all. Don't read his introduction to the game before slapping home Disk One because it will just make you sympathise with his enemies.

It's the pathetic jokes that hit you first with quips such as "A Glass of Gary's Gutrat coming up... in more ways than one!" Mmmm. Then there are those double entendres.

Brothel creep
Much of the action at the beginning takes place ina bordello where, no matter how you try to dictate the conversation, the Ladd chimes in with pleas for a free appointment.

Innocent Until Caught is definitely one to keep away from the children if you want to avoid some very awkward questions over dinner.

OK, so Jack may not approach things in quite the same way as you or I, but then we're not on the run from the Interstellar Revenue Decimation Service who would as soon confiscate your manhood as see you in credit.

Innocent Until Caught gives you 28 days to help Jack get back into the black. It's a case, as usual, of collecting objects which help you progress through a vast number of screens. The satisfaction of completing a task that suddenly reveals a whole new, sumptuously-decorated area is immense, but you have to ask yourself if you can bear the monotony of plodding your little character back and forth until he makes a connection that bears fruit.

Games like this certainly aren't action-packed, and what tey lack in adrenalin they should make up for in intrigue. Innocent Until Caught isn't helped in this respect by a sluggish control system that discourages you from exploring. The cursor moves jerkily across the screen making it difficult to manipulate, although being able to scroll through each option, rather than click on a panel, makes things a lot easier.

Keep it away from the children if you want to avoid some awkward questions.

Explosive climax
Don't forget there are those disk-swapping sessions from hell to be endured unless you have a hard drive. All right, so games of this type aren't renowned for speed of access, but this one is an awesome size. If you haven't got a hard drive then don't buy it. You'll end up destroying your equipment in fury, and probably develop arthritis in your wrist.

The overall atmosphere of Innocent Until Caught is uncomfortable. Neither Jack nor any of the people he encounters are really convincing and the game meanders from one situation to the next without an overall storyline.

Although you are assured of an explosive climax, the initial sub-plots of retrieving items for various denizens fail to hold your interest. And despite the size of the game there is surprisingly little flexibility in the route to success or failure.

Talking to characters produces the same results no matter how sarcastically you approach people. When there aren't many ways to go in a game like this, the computer becomes nothing more than a glorified adventure book. Take away that sexy artwork and you would have no use for the medium.

Thankfully, Innocent Until Caught is well drawn. It's not in the same class as Beneath A Steel Sky, but it is suitably futuristic and slick. The sound stumbles along a little, but a sexy soundtrack is hardly essential to a graphic adventure.

The game's real flaw is that it is so difficult. Rather than gently introducing you to the techniques of exploring you are thrown in at the deep end, and for all its atmosphere, Innocent Until Caught remains inaccessible.

The problem is compounded by a twisted design logic that allows you to stumble across someone else's passport in the first five minutes of the game, and to use it to prove your own identity later on (eh?).

You can call hulking sailors fat and they simply agree, and despite your reputation as a master thief you can't lift things from a certain pawnbroker's shop because doing so give you a guilty conscience.

For a fan of the genre, Innocent Until Caught is an attractive sci-fi variation on the Monkey Island theme. There is plenty of exploring to be done, but enduring its feeble humour is like having your ribs broken rather than tickled.

It's a competent but narrow venture into the world of role-playing. The selling point is the massive number of locations and encounters across several planets. Not bad, but Innocent lacks the innovation needed to put it on the map.


Innocent Until Caught Innocent's hero is a master thief, bar-room philospher and all-round wit. Here's what he has to say on some of the major issues of the day:

"Never challenge a bartender on a Federation Starship to a game of 'I bet you don't know how to make a Legspreader Surprise'. He'll have you unconscious before you can say 'lyz bett yz dontt gnaw hoooow tooooo mak er..."

"The hamsters you sold him were, in fact, a box of wigs for people with small heads."

"Most people look (and feel) guilty when passing through customs, and end up getting their most intimate articles of clothing searched for an ounce of Gerbil Nuts."

"If a policeman isn't corrupt, he's stupid. If he isn't stupid, he isn't a policeman."

"If governments displayed great works of art in pig sheds no-one would even bother to steal them."

"Madness isn't genetically transmitted. At least that's what my friend Dinky the green goblin says."

"They will tax anything that moves, and if it doesn't move they'll slap an Immobility Tax on it."

Ein Herz für Steuersünder

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Von Psygnosis erwartet man alles Mögliche, bloß kein Adventure im Stil der typischen Sierra-Produkte - aber nach diesem gelungenen SF-Abenteuer könnte das in Zukunft ganz anders aussehen!

Im 21. Jahrhundert hat die Menschheit zwar schon einige Planeten besiedelt, trotzdem wird sie immer noch von den altbekannten Geißeln Finanzamt & Verbrechen tyrannisiert.

Der Spieler übernimmt in dem ein wenig an William Gibsons "Neuromancer" gemahnenden Szenario die Rolle des Meisterdiebes Jack Ladd, der gerade größere Probleme mit den Behörden hat.

Er muß binnen 28 Tagen seine astronomische Steuerschuld begleichen, sonst droht ihm die Pfändung seiner inneren Organe! Erschwert werden seine Bemühungen zur Rettung von Nieren, Herz und Milz durch die Tatsache, daß er momentan mit seinem defekten Raumer auf dem Planeten Tayte festsitzt - und hier wohnt scheinbar nur lauter Gesindel...

Der lebensnah animierte Jack wird nun in schönster Sierra-Manier via Maus und Iconleiste durch die schräg von oben gezeigte Ghettolandschaft dirigiert.

Recht hilfreich ist dabei die kleine, aber informative Übersichtskarte, die alle begehbaren Wege samt den (in Gebäuden) vorhandenen Ein- und Ausgängen anzeigt.

Wenn man mit dem Mauscursor die ein bißchen langsam scrollende Gossenszenerie bestreicht, beschreibt ein eingeblendeter Schriftzug die erspähten Gegenstände, welche dann mit der Lupe noch nähre untersucht werden können.

Dies ist meist auch bitter nötig, weil einige Objekte nur zwei, drei Pixels groß sind: Man braucht schon einen Adlerblick, will man nicht den wichtigen Pfandzettel in der Gesäßtasche eines Quartalsäufers oder den am Schreibtisch klebenden Kaugummi übersehen. Die ergatterten Fundstücke werden dann im Inventory verstaut, wo sie leider aus Platznot, zum Teil auch wenig übersichtlich, übereinander gestapelt abgelegt sind.

Dafür befindet sich in Jacks Jacke noch eine spezielle Diebestasche, in der man die Objekte seiner Begierde verschwinden lassen kann, ohne Aufsehen zu erregen.

Unser Held ist ein kontaktfreudiger Mensch und führt daher des öfteren längeranhaltende Debatten mit den herumstehenden Bordsteinschwalben, Rockern, (bestechlichen) Polizisten und Hehlern.

Diese Gesprächssequenzen sind mit einem eigenen Dialogbildschirm, anklickbaren Sätzen und einstellbarem Quasseltempo auch ziemlich aufwendig gestaltet. Man muß hier z.B. die Gäste einer Bar zu den nicht immer legalen Möglichkeiten des Geldverdienens in dieser trostlosen Gegend befragen - ein andermal überredet man vielleicht einen Rocker dazu, seine olle Jacke gegen eine schicke Motorradkühlerfigur einzutauschen.

Das Spiel ist zwar keineswegs perfekt, denn neben den bereits erwähnten Mankos ist auch die Maussteuerung etwas bockig und die Präsentation nicht unbedingt ein Knaller. Aber in der Summe machen die originelle Story, die stimmige Atmosphäre und der reichlich vorhandene Wortwitz die kleinen Mängel mehr als wett. Lediglich Futuristen ohne Festplatten sollten die zehn Disks ohne Zweitlaufwerkunterstützung mit Vorsicht genießen. (md)

Innocent Until Caught logo

Get dodging, ducking, diving and weaving with Psygnosis' new anti-hero, Jack T. Ladd.

You're not really getting the full story from the title of this latest adventure, because they've pretty much masked the gruesome fate that faces your hero. For further accuracy, the game really should be called 'Innocent Until Caught, tortured (a bit) and then sold piece by piece to various organ banks and hospital research facilities', but I guess for the practical reason of it not fitting on the box, Psygnosis decided to go for the snappier-but-slightlymisleading title.

The game's a pretty standard point-and-click graphic adventure, so there's no getting away from that tried and tested game review cliché (Number 221, review trivia fans. Ed) about it being a Monkey Island clone.
For anyone who spent the last decade as the prisoner of a crazy bonkers obsessive, trapped inside a wheely bin until you agreed to marry him, I suppose I'd better go over the basics of a point-and-click adventure. Advanced readers may skip the next paragraph.

You view the action from a sort of distant fly-on-the-wall view, watching the characters wandering about and talking. To move the character around, you click on an area of the screen, and to pick up, use or drop thing, you select the relevant icon before clicking on the object, and conversations are chosen from a list of predetermined sentences.

To be a true Monkey Island clone, the game has to try its hardest to be side-splittingly funny in an obscure sort of way at every possible moment. It's becoming a tried and tested formula, and if LucasArts had patented the graphic adventure, they'd probably be multi, multi-billionaires now, instead of just plain, drab, ho-hum billionaires.

One of the most annoying aspects of point-and-click adventures is that to work out what's important and what isn't, all you usually do is wave the pointer across the screen and see what gets highlighted. If you point at a bookcase and nothing happens for instance, then you know it's just background detail, but if you point at a book and it says 'book' then you know it's got something to do with the story.

Innocent manages to make it just a weeny bit harder by making this 'look at' function an icon that you have to select. It's just a small point, but it means that you tend to look at the picture of just mechanically sweeping the screen for clues. Another strange function is that the inventory window isn't split into boxes, so every time you move an object over to it, the icon stays in whatever haphazard way you drop it.

This offends my orderly nature, but I tend to think it fits the personality of your game alter-ego, a certain Jack T Ladd. It doesn't take an Einstein to take a wild guess at what sort of person Jack is and be absolutely right, seeing as he really is a Jack-the-lad.

There's three ways of explaining how this curious name/profession coincidence came about, although only one of them seems in any way likely. First, there's the possibility that his parents were prescient, and could predict future events. Secondly, the name may have chosen the profession, with the young Jack buying a cheap leather jacket and a Ford Capri, and getting down to some serious wheeling and dealing.

This may seem as unlikely as the first theory, but there's a historical precedent for this. It's been known for a long time that a teenage Vlad T Impaler was forced into his line of work by his parents, and that William T Conqueror invaded England only after a disastrous career as a pastry chef. Finally, and more likely, there's the distinct possibility that he was given a fairly obvious name by the programmers so you'd be left in no doubt as to the nature of his character.

A cheap leather jacket and a Ford Capri

The game starts off with Jack being told that unless he pays his back taxes within a month, then the IRS are going to hack him up (in a literal sense). This is a bit of a downer for Jack, for although he's a wheeler-dealer, he's an astonishingly good one, and his back taxes add up to the combined national debts of most South American countries.

Faced with a mere 28 days to cough up (quite literally) a mountain of cash, what would be the first thing you'd do?

Right, you'd head straight down the pub, wouldn't you? (Only if you were over 18, and then only for purely social reasons and in moderation - Politically Correct Ed).

Being set in the future, Jack heads for the nearest seedy bar planet, and it's here that his adventures begin. Since he's been frisked by the IRS people, the only thing he's got with him is the tax demand, but thankfully there are plenty of things lying around, and loads of people who may, or may not be helpful.

Now, if you're thinking of buying this game, the last thing you want is to be told the entire plot, so I'll stick to generalisations rather than story-line specifics. For a start, the game's broken up into lots of little sub-adventures. Much of the first bit on the planet Tayte revolves around Jack's frantic efforts to get a drink, which isn't as easy as you might think.

Separating him from a cool lager are all manner of obstacles, not least his complete lack of money. In his quest for beer, he must talk to several, er, ladies of the night and frequent an, um, house of ill repute. In fact, the entire Tayte chapter is a tad bawdy and boysy, and at many points along the way (most notably the 'You don't get many of those to the pound comment) you'll be frantically dialing for the euphemism police.

Get the girl and save the galaxy

The episodic nature of the game works because it breaks up the flow, and also allows massive shifts in location. This might seem a bit odd, but if you think about it, films, books and other great forms of mass entertainment do this all the time. You don't have to see Luke fly all the way to Dagobath to get the message, do you? Of course you don't, all you need to see is him getting in his X-Wing and then catting to Yoda, and you get the message.

In the same way, when we see Jack involved in a bar fight, and then see him in prison,you can get the message that bad things have happened to him in the intervening period. This slightly more filmy method of story telling allows Jack to leap from planet to starship to planet to floating city without going to the tedium of him finding the correct change to buy a ticket every time.

The game comes on ten disks, and is absolutely massive. In two days of non-stop playing, I completed only ten percent of it, and then used the handy cheat code (only available to us reviewer types) to look at the rest, and from the various disjointed bits that I saw, I can exclusively reveal that if you do everything right, you not only pay off your back-taxes, but also get the girl and save the galaxy. Not a bad tally for an interplanetary Essex boy.

As you'd imagine, with ten disks, there's an awful lot of disk swapping, and unfortunately, this is where it falls down. Beneath a Steel Sky managed to keep the swapping down to changing a single disk over whenever you entered a new section of the game, and although you can go for quite a while without being interrupted, when you do get some change disk prompts, everything dissolves into a horrible flurry of inserting five or so disks in rapid succession.

Innocent Until Caught is hard-disk installable however, and so those of you with fixed mass storage media will be completely unaware of this problem.

Main gripe number two is that the mouse pointer's a bit fiddly. Part of this is to do with the pointer moving slowly, so there's a slight lag between you moving the mouse and the pointer reacting, and part of it's because of the pixel-perfect positioning needed to pick up certain objects.

So to sum up, Innocent Until Caught is a big, funny adventure and quite obviously written by and for males who have some difficulty working out the difference between sexy and sexist. Then again, when you're following the antics of a leather jacketed, 100 percent Ladd, I suppose a bit of excessive, red-blooded stare-down-the-cleavage leering is perfectly in order. Possibly.

Innocent Until Caught
  1. Gratuitous sexism rears its ugly head at many points in the game. Top statue type lass though.
  2. All exits to the rooms are displayed here.
  3. Movement and action icons fit neatly in here.
  4. A 'working girl' says little but shows quite a lot.
  5. The cluttered inventory section.

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Another graphic adventure enters the CU AMIGA office from an unusual source. Stephen Enstone discovers whether it has anything new to offer or whether it's just the same as all the rest.

The Interstellar Revenue Decimation Service IRDS (the tax men) have got it in for Jack T. Ladd, small time smuggler and contraband dealer. They want loads of money within the next 28 days or else they are going to do something very nasty to him. In order to earn enough cash to pay off this debt he must beg, borrow, swop, steal - basically anything legal or illegal that doesn't involve manual labour.

Exciting plot isn't it? What really amazes me is that they managed to stretch it out to fill 31 pages in the manual. Creative writing or what?

You control Jack using a series of icons on the base of the screen. There are six basic controls: take, use, move, look, scan and talk. All fairly obvious. An interesting option is the speed setting, which allows you to set how long speech stays on screen.

There's a map in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen which guides you around the three planets and Cloud City. However, because it only shows you Jack's immediate surroundings, for example the room he is in, it is really only useful if you need to get to the nearest entrance or exit in a hurry, achieved by clicking on arrows that are on the map.

There is an inventory area which shows all the gear you are carrying and you can pick up and use objects from this window. You can also place objects in jack's pocket which means a lot of kit can be carried. Some items need to be combined to be used and this is done in the Inventory panel. There is also a status window where you can see just how well you are doing in your quest for wealth.

At the beginning you simply have to acquire objects and swop them for others, increasing value each time. Later on things get more complicated when objects have to be combined. The first rule of thumb when playing Jack T. Ladd is to steal first and think later. Scruples get you nowhere.

Generally, the background graphics are good in Innocent Until Caught but you expect this from graphic adventures these days. Jack T. Ladd himself is nothing special. The animation is good on his character, but is spoiled by a slow update that is frustrating when you try to pick up an object. Jack's hand tries grabbing at the object to pick it up, but he seems like he just does not want to.

Your enjoyment of the game will to a certain extent, depend on your appreciation of its humour. This is wry and rather sarcastic, and, dare I say, quite sexist. I know that it won't suit everyone.

Innocent Until Caught suffers, to a certain extent, from being produced by a company that is much better known for its arcade and platform games that its adventures . Yes, there are some inventive features and interesting, even funny situations, but the game seems to lack a hook, something exciting that'll keep you up until the small hours playing it. Pity.


Innocent Until Caught is an okay game. It can be taxing and is spiced up with the occasional funny joke (however, after a while these become annoying and a bit repetitive). Overall, there is nothing new to excite the apprentice adventurer and there isn't a lot of challenge for the experienced one either.
If you are running it from floppy drive you'd better get used to disk swopping because at the beginning there is at least 10 disk swops during and after the intro. Luckily, while playing this is kept to a minimum.
Innocent Until Caught has some unusual characters, a smattering of love interest and complex puzzles. But is that enough?