Experiment 12 is a strange game with strange origins. The work of nearly a dozen game designers, the 12 chapters each are self-contained games of disparate mechanics and style, each continuing the story of the prior chapter. What that creates is a disjointed but strangely beautiful look at a singular story from many different views. What should be discordant seems perfectly in harmony with its strange, dark sci-fi, distrurbed story telling.
I won’t go into specifics about the creators or the types of chapter here (if you want a look at that I highly recommend this rundown here). What I will say is that seeing discreet approaches to designing the same ideas bounce off of one another is very interesting. The game begins with very disparate styles, only to have them begin to reference each other as the chapters go deeper and a more coherent narrative takes over. Some chapters are all story, little gameplay. Some are all gameplay. There’s even one that serves as a recap chapter, told by uniting the entirety of the prior chapters under an umbrella design that’s really striking in its simplicity.
Highlights (for me) are the incredible chapter 2, the indecipherable chapter 5, the stark simplicity of chapter 8, and the sheer unsettling weirdness of chapter 10. Truth be told, some of the chapters feel arbitrarily hard, especially contrasted against others where it’s impossible to fail (chapter 3 is just outright bad, but chapter 9 just asks too much in a way that feels like it’s preventing forward progress in the narrative, and I resorted to seeing the endings of both on youtube), but as a whole the entire thing is an incredible and incredibly weird assemblage, creating something bigger and more meaningful out of its disparate parts.