"Experiment" is a text-based adventure game that traps the player in a mysterious, horrifying environment. Upon waking up in a dark, dreary room, the player can easily escape.
It's the choices made afterward that will decide their fate.
Every playthrough is guaranteed to introduce new, unique pieces of the story to help the player understand how they got there. The characters met along the way may help, but some may not.
Just remember, every choice is a matter of life or death.
I created "Experiment" in my junior year of college for my class, Game Design II using Twine. We had one month to develop a text-based, narrative-heavy game. I wanted to create a choice-based story that kept players replaying until they got through every ending possible. There are nine endings in total, which means every choice matters. A core focus was making sure the player was paying attention to every little detail.
I'm a fan of dark stories, specifically psychological horror. The game's dark themes gained inspiration from other pieces of media (particularly games like "Drakengard" and "Bioshock") as well as taking from real-life events. The dark topics in "Experiment" include human experimentation, sex trafficking, and stalking. The antagonist appears as an ordinary gentleman at first; he's kind, witty, and soft-spoken.
As seen in many true-crime studies, those that appear the most normal can harbor dark secrets.
"Experiment" can be truly horrifying. One thing to note is that the endings never feel satisfying. There's a sense of realism because escaping is not the end of the horror. Most, if not, all who have gone through horrible crimes still struggle with what's happened. With these real-life issues, it's painful to move forward. A study done on victims of Nazi experiments reports: "The survivors were often seriously disabled and handicapped for the remainder of their lives." Although the game can be seen as extreme, it's meant to bring the true horror of what could happen in such dark crimes.
There are plans to improve this game. One idea is to convert the game to a visual novel to help the player see the visuals. Not much description is said about the environment in some parts, making it confusing to try and follow the correct paths.
I would also work on editing the narrative. At times, it felt too dark and shocking for the sake of being shocking. Spending some time apart has helped to see that the game is scary in itself, and there's no need to shock the players with something grotesque or horrifying. Although I still want the game to have these dark, realistic topics, it's crucial to know the player is engaged and to avoid them stopping because it became too much.
I also think the game lacks positive content. Although realistic, it doesn't provide answers on what happens after the experience. While some endings are dark, the "good" endings still feel pessimistic. I plan to speak with psychologists about how survivors have moved forward and include these tips in the game. Even if the player never experiences these horrifying situations in real life, they can help others and share the information. The game shouldn't be just shocking and horrific, but also educational. As the game improves, I hope to have the player leave with some knowledge about trauma and coping with such dark subjects.