Innocent Until Caught (Divide By Zero) - 1993

This review is part of the “Let’s Adventure!” series. See all reviewed games sorted by rating here.

Innocent Until Caught is a graphic adventure game with an icon-based point-and-click interface.

Jack T. Ladd is a thief, his hunting-ground is the whole galaxy, and at the moment, he’s in big trouble. He’s got 28 days to pay his taxes - or else the interstellar tax agency will hunt him down. Termination is a viable punishment for tax offenders in these days, you know. Stranded blank on the barren, run-down planet Tayte, Jack decides that he has to make some cash. Quick.

Innocent Until Caught is pretty standard in terms of design but introduces some innovations when it comes to the interface. It features a mini-window at the bottom left of the screen which is alternately a mini-map of the area (showing all exits) and a looking glass for detecting small items. The inventory is a box-window in which objects can be placed wherever player wants (even on top of others). Also, the plot is illustrated by a few rendered sequences, some of the first used in adventure games.1

Not too shabby looking for a cutscene from 1993

From the minute I started playing this game I got Beneath a Steel Sky vibes. I didn’t realize that game came out a year later, so maybe I should be saying the reverse, but regardless of semantics Innocent Until Caught struck a tone with me. I am a huge sucker for games that seem to take place in either a post-apocalyptic future, a dystopian future or a cyberpunk setting.

This game is set in a dystopian future, but right away you’re treated to the comedic undertones that highlight the entire plot. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to envision this game having been written by Al Lowe as the backdrop for a slightly darker Leisure Suit Larry adventure.

You know you wanna know what happens next …

Innocent Until Caught offers a pretty straightforward interface, though it overloads each interface area to perform double-duty. The bottom left area is a mini-map, however when you’re LOOKing at something it will tell you what you’re hovering over. The mini-map also shows all exits to the current screen you can follow, which can be clicked on if you have WALK selected.

The middle area is your action/verb bar as well as the STATUS button. The status area gives you details about your progress and is where you can find save/load and configuration options.

Your status screen also shows a profile of Jack T. Ladd which serves absolutely no purpose until the very end of the game, at which point you can use this to change your clothes to impersonate a guard.

Inventory management and item combinations are a massive part of this game. The third status area of the user interface which takes up about 2/3 of the screen is the inventory. There are just so many items you can pick up throughout this game - and I’m pretty sure ALL of them are required to progress.

If there’s one thing I have to gripe about when it comes to this game it’s the moon logic you need to apply to certain puzzles and item combinations. If you thought Monkey Island’s “Monkey Wrench” puzzle was obtuse, wait until you get a load of this game.

Need to break into a bank? Get the plans for it from the bank first, then USE those plans in the sewer to find your way to an alcove that shows where the wall is the weakest. To get through that wall you’ll need to blow a hole in it. Put a mushroom in front of the alcove, then release a fly that will fly into the mushroom causing it to explode. How do you catch that fly? First find a jar and a lid (make sure to combine them when you find them). How do you get the fly in the jar? Fill it with mayonnaise of course!

Fly flies into the mushroom and BOOM goes the wall. Well that was easy … right?

I’m assuming there must have been some conversational hint or observation when you INSPECT something somewhere because I read through the manual and didn’t find any mention of the fly … or a mushroom. The manual does give you a couple clues to some of these puzzles though like “Try to find an alternative way to enter the zoo. When you do, how you smell might mean the difference between life and death.”

Yet another feat of mental gymnastics will be required to get past this monster

Though the puzzles can be ridiculously difficult to solve, the game as a whole is pretty forgiving. I didn’t die once - not did I find myself in an unwinnable situation. I don’t actually know if it’s possible to do either of these as I’m assuming the game just doesn’t let you advance until you have all the necessary items to progress past the area you’re trying to get to.

I leaned on the walkthrough pretty heavily during this playthrough so I’m not 100% sure if this is the case, but whenever I tried to put Jack in danger the game just sort of told me “you can’t do that”.

When you’re not scanning every inch of every screen to SEE if there’s an item to pick up, you can progress the plot by TALKing to most characters. These interactions take place in a conversation view where you typically have 3 options you can choose from in any situation. You can also inspect what you’re being told to pull out keywords from a conversation to ask more about this (the cursor will turn to a question mark when you find a keyword in a response).

I only used this once or twice during the game so it’s not a major mechanic, but it does add some variety to these interactions.

The writing in this game is excellent, and it’s worth noting that the themes and dialogue of Innocent Until Caught are not for kids. I think this actually drew me in more as it felt like a more mature game and it gave the writers more leeway to inject adult humour and themes throughout.

I was very much sucked into this game world and enjoyed most of the experience … but then you try to break out of jail.

The jailbreak sequence involves navigating a maze. I HATE MAZES. This was just unnecessarily drawn out because there’s nothing to do but grind your way through using trial and error until you muddle your way to the end. I’m sure there are people that genuinely enjoy mazes, but I’m not one of those people so I call them out whenever I encounter them (as I did with Manhunter 2: San Francisco, Return to Ringworld and The Legend of Kyrandia: Fables and Fiends).

Thankfully this is only one sequence and you can burn through it in about 20-30 minutes (depending on how much backtracking you have to do).

If you’re unable to board the train, you’re using DOSBox and your CPU cycles are below 6000

The majority of the initial act of the game takes place in 5 different areas which are accessible by subway. Once you visit each area (by waiting for the subway to get there) you’ll be able to “fast travel” by getting on the subway at any stop, looking at the subway map and just clicking the stop you want to go to. This is EXTREMELY convenient as it allows you to bypass the drawn out subway ride between stops.

One issue I had with the subway was that I found myself unable to progress the first time I played this game. Every time the subway car would stop and open the doors I clicked like a maniac to get Jack to board the train cycling through every verb/action available … but nothing worked. It turns out that this is a known (but poorly documented) issue you’ll run into if playing the game via DOSBox.

If you want to avoid the frustration, start the game as follows:

  1. Launch DOSBox
  2. Increase the CPU cycles beyond 6000 (default is 3000)
  3. Run INNOCENT.EXE to start the game

You can now board the train successfully. You have to follow this sequence as increasing the cycles once the game is already running doesn’t seem to work. Once you’ve done the above you can restore a game right before you board the train and you should board successfully.

Note that you can’t change your audio configuration and then load a save state. If you do so the audio just won’t work and you’ll have to play the rest of the game in silence. This was a bit frustrating as I wanted to play through using either the Soundblaster or Roland configuration … but I started with Adlib so that’s what I rolled with.

The game does give you A LOT of clues as to what you may need to do next

The music is atmospheric and appropriate - though limited. There are a handful of background songs that the game will cycle through based on the screen you’re on, and the samples are pretty short so you’ll notice the looping. This is a pretty minor complaint though as the songs are pretty good.

Aside from some technical challenges and a maze that I could have done without, this game came as a pleasant surprise. I’ve heard of it numerous times over the years but never took the time to try it out myself - but I’m really glad I did.

Since there’s a sequel (Guilty) that came out a couple years later I’m now looking forward to when I get to tackle that title as well.

I’d recommend this game, though you’ll likely need a walkthrough to solve some of the puzzles. Do yourself a favour though and setup your preferred audio device before you start the game ;)

Game Information

GameInnocent Until Caught
DeveloperDivide By Zero
Release Date1993
SystemsDOS, Amiga
Game EngineInterspective

My Playthrough

How Long To Beat?5 hours
Version PlayedDOS via DOSBox-X
NotesWalkthrough, Manual


See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.

Atmosphere (20)16
Story (25)19
Experience (15)11
Impact (10)9


  1. Description from Moby Games 

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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