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Review: The Experiment

Josh Tolentino | 21 Aug 2008 20:56
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The lens, however, is not without its smudges. Translated from the French, the localization is rather low-rent, scattered with inconsistencies and mistakes. Their impact ranges from the cutely odd (the laundry room is referred to as "the bleachery") to the potentially game-breaking. One puzzle has you using a Polybius square to decode a team member's password. The answer that comes up is "Polybie", the French term for Polybius. Unfortunately, the actual password is "Polybius". Someone forgot to update the puzzle. As such I also recommend having a walkthrough nearby.

Lea's vocal and visual feedback also leaves something to be desired. For a scared, confused woman trapped in a ruined cargo ship, everyone she knows dead or missing, with only a potentially hostile voyeur to help her, her delivery is preternaturally calm and composed. In game that depends so heavily on your wanting to help this person, she doesn't seem to make a very strong effort to make herself.

The Experiment's UI fights you many steps of the way, and ends up frustrating more than liberating, a mortal offense where the title demands patience and dedication. The camera's auto-follow function is utterly useless, forcing you to manually select every camera in Lea's path to keep up. Everything is almost completely mouse-driven, and it isn't easy to resize and reposition camera windows. File windows are poorly designed, extending off-screen and obscuring clues that need to be accessed quickly and easily.

The game also fails to accommodate the busy, on-and-off gamer, with no internal hint system and a stupidly vague objectives screen. That pad and paper will be handy for keeping track of whatever the hell you were supposed to be doing when you quit. Cutely, though, Lea expresses relief whenever you reload a game, treating your absence as some kind of technical glitch in the camera. It shows shades of Metal Gear Solid's playing with your console's internal calendar, and makes the game better for it.

Graphically, the game does well. The rusty browns are mitigated by smatterings of green and good shadows and bloom, but the game demands more resources than might be implied by the polygon count, probably due to the stress of maintaining the multiple viewpoints. There are no advanced settings other than adjusting resolution, so tech-heads looking to tweak may be disappointed.

Bottom Line: These mechanical gaffes are easy to gloss over once you get the hang of the interface, and the writing picks up considerably once the initial confusion has passed.

Recommendation: If you care at all about engrossing adventure games, new and interesting gameplay, or just a shining affirmation that there are PC games that just aren't right anywhere else, you owe The Experiment at least a try.

-- Joshua Tolentino (unangbangkay)

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