Experiment 13 is an interesting game for Xperia Play. Published by Sony Ericsson themselves, but developed by Southend Interactive, this is a platform puzzle game that has been launched with little fanfare but actually deserves a slice of your attention.
The game puts you in the shoes of Roy Tate, a laboratory assistant who finds himself caught up in a strange new world called dimension 13 after messing around with some things he should not have been anywhere near. He finds himself, alongside a little sidekick, in a strange jungle world.
The aim of the game is to collect a set number of spheres on each stage, which powers up the exit portal. Once it is powered up, you are free to hurry along to it, at which point Roy is warped to the next stage and the level ends. A side-on platform game with pseudo 3D graphics, this plays as you would imagine. Pressing the d pad left or right will make Roy move in the desired direction, and a quick tap of the X button will make him leap high into the air. If he is close to an edge, Roy will also be able to clamber up one level, and he can jump really far if you give him a run up.
The unique twist here is the ability to change the entire gravitational pull of the level, by tapping either of the shoulder buttons to rotate it in the relevant direction. As soon as the stage rotates, Roy will react to the change in direction and begin to fall towards the bottom of the screen, and it is this mechanic that the entire game is built around.
On a simple level, it can be used to get to items far out of reach on the walls or ceiling, but after the first few levels, the developer really starts to play with the idea and produces some devious puzzles. Many times you will have to get Roy to change direction in mid air to avoid spikes and other obstacles, or to avoid falling too far, which also kills him. The really clever bit is the fact that each turn of the level takes a second or so to recharge, meaning you will have to plan ahead to get through the levels.
Luckily, a quick press of the ‘select’ button zooms the camera out, and you can pan around to view the entire level, an essential tool for getting through some of the more complex stages. The game gets really tough, especially when there are dangerous objects lying around the levels that Roy must avoid, and they too react to the change in level direction meaning a good deal of skill, planning and timing is required to win through.
There are a few different kinds of beasts to avoid, as well as a few tools to help Roy around the stages, such as a giant mushroom thats cushions landings.
The games innate difficulty is majorly nullified by the respawn mechanic, which is extremely generous. Whenever you die, you are automatically taken back to the last safe ledge, which is usually only a couple of seconds ago. It does mean that the game never, ever gets frustrating but it is maybe a little too forgiving.
For a free game, there is an excellent amount of content. There are 40 levels to play through, with little cut scenes to enjoy, speed and distance challenges for each stage and even a set of achievement-style awards to unlock, all of which rack up to a good few hours play, especially if you are trying to get all the awards.
This is designed for the Xperia Play, but comes with optional touch and tilt controls if you don’t like the buttons.
Overall, this is a good little puzzle game that is being offered extremely generously to Xperia Play owners for free. It does have a few small problems, such as the collision detection on the spike walls not being perfect, but when you are being offered so much for zero investment, it would be churlish to say no.