The Experiment is Empirically Good

The Experiment
Gameplay
graphics
audio
value
fun
Genre
Reviewed On
PC
Available For
PC
Difficulty
Intermediate
Publisher(s)
Developer(s)
ESRB
ESRB

We have all played adventure games where a person wakes up without knowing where they are or what is going on. The Experiment starts the same way, except you aren’t that person, but someone watching that person through surveillance cameras. This twist on this type of game has been attempted before, but not nearly so elegantly.

In the derelict remains of a tanker vessel run aground on a tropical island, an attractive woman with a strange glowing pendant wakes up. You apparently are watching her through a surveillance camera, and she manages to figure out that someone is watching her. When you are just starting out, you can pretty much only move the camera to give her a reassuring ‘nod,’ but as you progress you gain additional abilities, such as night vision and thermal imaging, which will come in handy in certain situations.

Your interface allows you to have up to three camera screens active at the same time. You can select the cameras through which you want to see by clicking on them in the map window. You can get your partner to go to a place, inspect an area, or even use or pick up an item by turning lights and monitors on and off through the same map interface. Sometimes she is too far from the light source you are flickering to react, and you have to create a chain of lights to get her to go down a really long hallway, for example.

This interface makes for a very challenging environment, as you can only see what your selected cameras see. The challenge can increase when the state of disrepair of some cameras causes them to have poor transmission, or are hard to move. While it can be a bit frustrating to not be able to see what you want, these things do wonders for adding to the realism and immersion level of the game.

Most of the puzzles involve needing a part or a key to activate a machine or open a door. These are usually found elsewhere in the ship and often only attainable by solving some other puzzle.

You are also given a lot of information in the form of emails and other documents, and many of the methods of solving various puzzles will come from these sources. You will be doing a bunch of reading in this game, so get used to it.

Much of this information is gotten by hacking into the login accounts of all the various base personnel. Fortunately, your new friend gives you her password, and tells you the format for everyone’s username. From there you get to piece together clues in emails, and other stored documents. Fortunately for you, it was largely rather boring on the base and some of the staff had taken up the hobby of code-breaking, and left their passwords as codes to be cracked.

The keywords to these codes were already discovered and noted by other members of the staff, and all you have to do is figure out how to crack the codes they used. Of course, being a game, the developers had to make sure you have all the information you need to solve the game, but they did a good job with scattering ‘corrupted files’ to make it look like a system in decay.

The 3D-modelled graphics are stellar, even though you can’t always see them in their full glory all the time (because of broken or damaged cameras). The animations of the people you see are natural and the lighting and other effects are right on the money. The voice acting is very well done; the actors are actually emoting and not just reading the lines.

The storyline unfolds nicely with each new email read or item recovered. Along the way you are treated to flashbacks as the woman you are helping regains more and more of her memories. You are regaining some of those memories yourself, but they tend to merge together in a disturbing and alien way.

I found the ending to be a bit of a disappointment, but that is probably because it is not the ending I had my heart set on as much as anything else. There are some questions that went unanswered, and should have been addressed regardless of whether I would have liked the answers, however.

The Experiment is has good, challenging puzzles, with a really cool interface, and a great story. When you consider all of this for a $20 price point, you are looking at a nigh-unbeatable bargain as well. It quite handily earns 4.5 GiN Gems.

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