The Invisible Hours PlayStation VR Review

Publisher: Game Trust  Developer: Tequila Works  Genre: Adventure  Players: 1  

Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Do you like watching people without them knowing? Do you also like a good murder mystery? Then VR game The Invisible Hours may just be the one for you. It’s a murder mystery story which is unlike anything that I’ve ever played before, and it’s also one that shows off VR as a strong storytelling tool, proving once again that this new way of playing games is capable of many different experiences.

Let me get one thing out of the way early. If you head into The Invisible Hours expecting to be the detective to solve the grisly murder, then you are going to be sorely disappointed. What we have here is far from a typical game, and isn’t really a game at all – it’s more about observing characters and learning what has happened on the stormy night that the game takes place on. It’s reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel, only read in the order that you desire.

This drama is going on here, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t more dramatics being played out elsewhere in the house. It makes the game all the more immersive to know that all the characters are doing their own things and interacting with one another even if you aren’t there to see them do so.

With some of the characters arriving at the big house, and others already there, this is when the events of the story are set up. The owner of the house, Nikola Tesla, is found murdered in the hall, and things just deepen from there. Nikola Tesla was of course a real life Serbian-American inventor, and other important figureheads from the past such as American inventor Thomas Edison and French actress Sarah Bernhardt show up as characters in the game. There’s also a Swedish detective, a blind butler, Tesla’s assistant, a killer, and the rich son of a famous family. All of these characters are staying in the house and each has a role to play beyond the simple fact of being a suspect in Tesla’s murder.

Regardless of what you may have heard of any of the real life people, anyone is a suspect in The Invisible Hour’s universe, and those who are familiar with Tesla will also know that the man wasn’t actually murdered in reality. Basically the game entails following the different characters whom are each doing their own thing in and around the house, and through listening to and observing these characters actions the story then slowly begins to be pieced together.

The game only takes around an hour or so to play through to reach a conclusion, although The Invisible Hour’s beauty is in the fact that you can play through again, viewing the story from another character’s perspective, and seeing and hearing the others doing their own thing in the timeline of the story as you do so. The narrative is very clever in the way that character stories overlap with one another, and it is also very riveting and intriguing, with plenty of scenes of drama and shocks as the emotions of particular characters start getting the better of them. It’s a testament to the strong storytelling when I wanted to assure that I had seen absolutely every possible scene that there is to see.

While the game is a murder mystery, there are also mysteries to uncover from observing the different characters, and this helps add depth to the narrative. It’s interesting to find out what some of the characters are hiding, and unravelling the murder mystery itself is also very worthwhile.

As a narrative experience, it was important that the character performances would be delivered well, and I am pleased to say that the performance from each and every actor and actress are nothing less than stellar, and what also helped here is that they had a quality script to work with. Each individual character feels like a person, and full body motion capture means that they also physically behave like real people, too.

While the characters are detailed when you see them up close thanks to how expressive they are, sadly the game is one of the blurriest I’ve played using the PlayStation VR headset.

It’s possible to rewind or fast forward the narrative whenever you deem it necessary. Fast forwarding is certainly appreciated to quickly get past a scene that you may have previously seen during a previous play through, or perhaps you just want to swiftly get past some of the boring scenes that involve characters doing mundane things such as reading or sweeping the kitchen floor for a lengthy period. There are also scenes that don’t have characters interacting with one another, or finally moments that just have characters standing around doing nothing for what seems like an unnaturally long time.

Even though The Invisible Hours offers a very believable and immersive VR storytelling experience, £35 may come across as a little steep to you for a 4-5 hour game. There’s collectables to find if you like that sort of thing, but the game just won’t have enough content to justify its rather high price tag for some, and this is definitely its biggest flaw.

Yes, The Invisible Hours does feel overpriced for what it is, but the work that has gone into the game as well as its riveting storytelling means that this is one memorable experience. True, this is not a murder mystery that you solve using ordinary gaming rules, but when everything falls neatly into place in terms of the storytelling, and you see how particular events came to a head during another play through, it’s really difficult to not appreciate this unusual narrative VR experience.