Demo Review: Experiment: ISOLATION

Play as Quill, an eighteen-year-old lawyer who wakes up in a prison cell with no recollection of how he got there, in this thriller in development by Rainer Holmes.

Experiment: ISOLATION is a game in development by Rainer Holmes. Play as Quill, an eighteen-year-old lawyer who wakes up in a prison cell with no recollection of how he got there. 

A review for the demo was requested via the “Review My Visual Novel” form on our site. 

Experiment: ISOLATION plunges the player directly into a mystery plot with a gripping opening scene. The player finds themself in a prison with thirteen other people, no one knowing how or why they arrived there. The player character, Quill, takes the role as leader, the somewhat level-headed and logical mind of the group. Through him, the player is able to make decisions and further progress the story. 

Each character is around eighteen years old and seems to have a defining character trait that is used to identify them. This is similar to the Danganronpa series, where each student has their own perk, whether it be “Ultimate Idol” or “Ultimate Bug Collector.” In Experiment: ISOLATION, these perks are more scattered, represented by a character’s looks, occupation, or specific traits. 

At times, these characters come across as shallow and flat, falling into their assigned trait and never really being able to break out of it. The problem with having so many characters is the inability to properly explore each one. This issue is particularly prevalent in the introduction scene, where each character has to say their name and who they are. 

While pairing characters together to speak is a clever and engaging way to showcase them, I felt as if there were still too many people to keep track of and the information was being told to me but not being retained as I clicked through the slow scene. 

Experiment: ISOLATION reminds me very much of the Danganronpa and Zero Escape series. There are investigation scenes where players can choose which area to investigate. They’re able to interrogate other characters and add to their discoveries in their journal. However, investigations seem limited to what other characters say rather than an actual point-and-click investigation for players. In this way, the story sometimes feels like it’s dragging on as information is being told to us and not being shown. 

I do really enjoy the idea of being able to choose who you’d like to interact with and take along with you to certain areas. This allows the player to learn more about specific characters and adds a level of strategy to the game. 

Another thing that stood out to me was the voice acting. The introduction scenes are all fully voiced, which makes the game feel more immersive. Each character is well cast and I really feel as if the voice actors capture the characters’ personalities well! However, some of the voice files are of different qualities, so hearing them side-by-side is jarring to the ears. There also isn’t an auto button (or even a quick menu!) that would allow the audio and text to progress without me having to click through. This would be a great addition in a future update that would allow players more ease of access when playing. 

The Verdict: 

Experiment: ISOLATION sets up an intense mystery with an interesting group of characters. The game shows a lot of potential and the demo is a great representation of what the game can offer. If you’re a fan of the Danganronpa or Zero Escape series, this may be a VN you’ll want to try out. 

You can try the demo for free on itch.io.

Anna Mirabella

Spooktober 2022 Visual Novel Jam

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