“My head is pounding.” – Experiment 12
‘Game Jams’ are an interesting concept, and are becoming ever more prevalent within the indie gaming scene. Initiated by VVVVVV and Super Hexagon mastermind Terry Cavanagh, Experiment 12 is one such collaboration between twelve developers, with each contributor having 3 days to complete their game portion before passing the reins onto the next in line to continue the story. As a result, each consecutive level requires a differing method of interaction and play-style.
The collection opens with Cavanagh’s effort, and is greatly reminiscent of his aforementioned work. Taking the form of a 2D platformer, this short stage features a unique method of indicating a player’s remaining health while you avoid obstacles and collect keycards in order to progress. This is a fantastic sample of his programming skill, and if it wasn’t for the 72-hour restriction, Cavanagh could easily have adapted this into a worthwhile gaming experience.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the majority of the other contributions. Ian Snyder’s level, while suitably disturbing, is devoid of any real purpose or proper gameplay. There are no negative consequences for bumping into any on-screen enemies – a recurring theme throughout this package – and doing so actually makes the current area easier to complete. Alan Hazelden offers nothing more than a slightly interactive wall of text, while TheBlackMask’s stage abruptly ends mere moments after it begins. The main problem with Experiment 12 is that, despite each new chapter presenting itself as the next part of an overall story, there is absolutely nothing that ties it all together. As a result, all that remains is a jumbled mess of half-baked ideas.
Thankfully, not all of the inclusions on offer here are without merit. Aside from Cavanagh’s piece, other highlights include Jack King-Spooner’s hand-painted (yet glitch-ridden) maze adventure and Michael Brough’s puzzle stage where the player controls multiple sprites at once. Richard Perrin’s first person island is by far the most impressive visually, especially when considering it was created within a 3-day timescale. While the game world may be small, the light from your torch highlights the intricate detail on every surface, putting most other developers involved with Experiment 12 to shame.
When viewed as one complete package, there is little here that makes a coherent and playable game, and is better accepted as a small portfolio where each developer showcases their varying styles and talent. That being said, Experiment 12 offers little reason for you to acknowledge its content and is hardly worth an ounce of your curiosity.
Experiment 12 is available as a free download for Windows and Mac at the following address: http://www.geocities.ws/experimenttwelve/