Monday, August 20, 2012

Are you Experienced?

Imagine if you bought a new computer, and inside you found a video of a woman pleading for help. Mixing elements of Uplink, a hacking videogame, the film Rear Window, as well as the more recent "found footage" movies, The Experiment; or eXperience112, depending on your geographical area, is respectful of its audience to the point that the heroine in developer Lexis Numérique's game, reminds you when was the last time you booted up the game. It is all geared towards creating a provocative time, and they certainly succeed. It makes one consider the limitless possibilities of gaming, and the fact that they are not being fully explored at the moment.

Lea Nichols wakes up in a derelict ship stranded on a faraway beach, and the only person around is you, looking at her through a security camera. She begins to address you, in her mossy quarters, until the rudimentary communication turns into a more complex cooperative system in which you control various parts of the ship to allow her access, and work towards finding out what happened, as well as what the mysterious 112 number means. The name of the game here is verisimilitude, as we shall see, for how many of us have been in combat, in contrast to how many have used a computer?

Part of the immersion is attained because the game essentially turns your pc into an emulator; you are running a foreign, yet believable, operating system, which happens to control many aspects of a ship. Unless the reader considers CoD:MW his favorite game series, The Experiment is almost sure to suck you in, and for a few hours, make the player pretty much forget about the outside world, with heaps of files, some marked sensitive, hence more enticing, in a similar manner to the new classic, Doom 3.
There is, of course, the voyeuristic component, which creates an eerie feeling, making you wonder if you are playing the game, or it is you who is being played on. Furthermore, Lea is not a cipher, she is a no-nonsense, meticulous scientist, whose actions happen to be currently defined by her predicament. As she finds the corpses of her former colleagues, you may feel empathy. The detective work involved, aided sometimes by controlling a clunky robot, can at times be compelling.
The game plays wonderfully on a widescreen monitor, making great use of screen real estate. In truth, every self-respecting gamer should consider having this game in their collection. For those who think there is something slightly wrong with gaming nowadays, the reader is then advised to find a copy of The Experiment, a game unlike anything the reviewer has ever played, or should I say, experienced.