|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Lexis Numérique||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: DreamCatcher Interactive/The Adventure Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The entire screen is essentially setup as a PC desktop, and the actions you'll take in the game itself are directly related to what you're doing on your own computer. This makes it easier to become more closely absorbed in the plot, since it really involves players in the events happening in the story. You, the player, are not really controlling Nichols; you're helping her out by interacting with her constantly to find out what objectives must be completed next, unlocking and manipulating different computers systems on the ship to give her access to move forward, and gaining information to piece together the puzzle of what happened. Though your efforts to lend a hand are noble, there's still a thick veil of mystery about the entire situation that is only revealed in small bits and pieces. Even the exact role you play, and who you really are, is not immediately known - it ties into the story later on in the game. Aside from an excellent sci-fi story sprinkled with minor elements of horror, this ambiguity instills in players a drive to progress in order to get answers.
The Experiment also goes well beyond appealing to the emotional side of players with its immersive plot by offering an almost meticulous level of challenge for die-hard adventure fans. There are plenty of difficult puzzles to solve, passwords to discover, secret files to access, and logical solutions to piece together. The ship features a fully fledged intranet which players can access by logging on as different EDEHN personnel to read files and access their e-mail accounts (uncovering passwords to their system login and secret files is a major undertaking unto itself). Accessing the intranet provides another immense level of detail and complexity to the story. Tucked away in those files are numerous documents which help explain the nature of the science experiments, the strange new life force they uncovered, and provide important clues to follow. On the other hand, the information-heavy nature of the intranet comes into play so frequently throughout the game that it tends to occasionally bog down the gameplay and temporarily impede progress while you frantically try to decode encrypted messages, dig through voluminous personnel files for passwords, and uncover other important information to continue progress.
The graphics are pretty good, but they're not quite as fully detailed or as impressive as some of the current-gen titles coming out these days. The level of graphical detail just doesn't pack a lot of oomph when you lean in for a closer look. This could be due to the fact the screen is often cluttered with the map and numerous surveillance camera windows scattered everywhere since so much of the actual action is seen through a series of small windows. Also, having all three camera windows open causes some minor lag with mouse movement that can be a nuisance at times. Thematically, the environmental visuals are spot-on and well-timed background music adds to oppressive atmosphere. Traveling through the decimated and aging corridors of a veritable ghost ship from the perspective of the many security cameras littering its interior is a great, and frankly pretty creepy, way to experience the game.
It's hard not to get fully engrossed in a game like The Experiment since it deftly presents a substantive adventure game with a completely different style and format from the norm. The game manages to hit every one of the requisite bases to satisfy the core audience that eats, breathes, and sleeps this stuff, yet it does so in a way that's creative and enticing. It's nice to see some developers going out on a limb to try something new with the adventure genre that has unfortunately become stale in recent years. This one is definitely worth the time.
CCC Staff Contributor