A crashed supertanker has become overgrown and dilapidated, and its previous inhabitants have had it loaded it to the brim with high-end technology and a wide variety of cameras and trendy gadgets.
As you enter this world and access the very first camera, you meet Lea Nichols, a woman who awakes with a machine plugged into her arm and the uncanny urge to introduce herself to you. So begins an adventure wrought with enough interactive details and angled shots to keep any craved, peril-seeking player under control.
Placing the player in the role of an anonymous operator fuels the storyline of The Experiment, a point-and-click adventure title developed by Lexis Numerique. The game puts the player in the hot-seat, luring them into a strange world. The Experiment lends an outstanding amount of variety to the player. Whatever your fix, the game strives to provide enough potential possibilities in the directing of Madame Nichols that linearity becomes close to obsolete. As you become comfortable with the system, an interface that includes every feature from saving and loading to investigating facility-member profiles, it becomes easier to rifle through the multiple cameras situated in each of the tanker's rooms. This will come into play as Lea reveals her specific needs to the player and the bulk of the quest takes off.
The manual for The Experiment is a must-have, as it expands the information presented in the game. For starters, the on-screen map is a glorious companion, but the manual provides specific data on room names and the like. Figuring out what such labels like 2PO3 and CT7T might mean is generally easier when accompanied by worded listings. Not only that, but the tiny guide provides basic information about EDEHN, the supertanker facility's project name, and the hierarchy of the experiment's team. It will come in handy when the interface starts filling itself with scattered data pertaining to the game's ambiguous characters.
As you journey through this strange world, Lea will follow your actions. Flick a light in a nearby room and she will position herself near it; toy with an object and wait for her to glide in and describe it. While the player is simply controlling Lea by clicking icons on a map, the camera shots and assorted interface functions make the game feel less point-and-click and more guide-and-watch. The surprise is that it works extraordinarily well; nothing feels more natural than sending Lea fast-stepping through rooms as you flip through multiple angles and observe her progress, while regularly referencing the interface records on the side. If you're up to the challenge of keeping tabs on data and weeding out every last detail of each room, you can sit down with The Experiment and have a good time with it.
There is more to the picture than watching the game's heroine gather information. Lea has a distinct need to expose herself to hydroxide-oxydrin, which is first revealed through the use of short in-game cinemas. This need aids in propelling the player through certain levels of the facility, and a list of objectives is supplied in the interface to ensure that Lea's strive for her fix does not dissolve into a futile endeavor. Therefore, gathering clues and exploring every nook and cranny can take a back-seat to delving into the general areas and completing objectives. Whatever your style, Lea has no choice but to bow and obey, which legitimately makes you her only saving grace as the game progresses.
As noted before, the interface, combined with the camera and light console, is the only way to 'control' Lea. Since tasks like showing the area map and switching cameras are common, the game provides an assortment of shortcut keys for revealing and hiding specific windows. Moving the cameras themselves is as easy as clicking on the scene shown through the camera and dragging with the mouse. Further into the game, Lea accesses the interface through stationary consoles and updates the cameras' abilities. These new functions can be added to the selected camera by clicking a toggle-button in the bottom right corner of the screen. Once activated, some abilities can be controlled. Zooming, for instance, is as easy as flicking the mouse's inset scroll-wheel. Furthermore, other distinctly-entertaining camera operations become available as Lea and her spying companion delve deeper into the supertanker's mystery.
The world presented in the tanker is a strange one indeed, and the developers at Lexis have done an excellent job portraying the sense of mystery surrounding The Experiment. Each room has its own unique flair, and the lighting and shadow effects work exactly as they should considering the sheer amount of control the player has over the environment.
Accompanying the welcome look of the game are sound effects that fit perfectly, and a musical score that tends to place the experience in an eerie light. In other words, the look and feel of the environments is spot on. The only real hiccup with the sound is Lea herself; at times, the words portrayed on the screen are a far stretch from what the woman is actually saying, and the translations are a bit iffy. Although her odd speech adds to the overall strangeness of the story, it sounds unintentional and her unclear words are misleading when it comes to directions for completing objectives. Nonetheless, the struggling voice-acting is a relatively small crater when examining the landscape of The Experiment in its entirety.
The sense that you are watching and directing a strange woman from a near-distant location surely provides the backbone of The Experiment. Fortunately, the game has much more to offer with its oddity of a plotline and easily-manageable interface. The Adventure Company and Lexis Numerique offer up an ingenious alternative to the point-and-click adventure norm with this title, and they do it fantastically well by blending an interesting viewpoint with an ominous protagonist and her journey through a dank and creepy world. Whether you crave adventure in itself or seek a twist on the genre, The Experiment just about fits the bill.