Best Concept: The Experiment
The Experiment begins with a markedly stereotyped situation: a woman awakes alone in an isolated evironment, with no memory of the circumstances that led her there. But just when you’re settling in for another clichéd amnesia plot, something entirely unforeseen happens: the woman turns her eyes toward the player, shakes a camera and speaks directly to her unseen spectator. The fourth wall is suddenly broken and The Experiment, true to its name, becomes a truly unusual gaming experience that redefines the idea of player immersion, delivering an unprecedented degree of realism.
There is no direct interaction with Dr. Lea Nichols as you view her on screen, but through the manipulation of a Windows-like interface for such activities as turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, and accessing protected personal files, players must operate a complex computer console to guide and encourage Lea's movement in order to gain vital information and overcome the many obstacles and dangers she faces aboard this grounded derelict ship. Unfortunately, the concept’s execution isn’t entirely successful, but the idea itself is a bold and refreshing change from the norm, and this revolutionary approach to player interaction could be a daring step in a fascinating new direction.
Runners-Up: Overclocked: A History of Violence, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Readers’ Choice: Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst
Though readers shared our appreciation of Overclocked and The Experiment's daring ideas, the top vote by a wide margin went to the peanut butter-and-chocolate combination of Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst. The unprecendented blend of hidden object casual gameplay and full adventure elements may not appeal to everyone, but the notion itself has certainly piqued player interest.
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Next up: Best Setting... the envelope, please.