The Invisible Hours Review (PSVR)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
When I first heard about and watching the trailer for The Invisible Hours on a Playstation VR upcoming games video on YouTube, I have been looking forward to what the game offered. Now it’s here, is it something that you’ll remember or something that will become invisible?
Tequila works have brought a murder mystery to the Virtual Reality platform, which you play like your watching the whole thing – sort of like a fly on the wall. This mystery starts when Swedish detective Gustaf Gustav arrives at Nikola Tesla’s mansion moments after he has been murdered. The story then unfolds from there, you will soon meet all the suspects in the murder (anyone who is in the house) – with the cast being full of famous characters. The questions is…could it be Flora White, his ex-assistant you find acting weirdly outside before discovering the body, or even Thomas Edison a rival inventor. This is all for you to witness, and try to figure out.
This is where the core of the gameplay comes in, just because you are following around one character – it doesn’t mean others in the game are not having a private conversation somewhere else in the mansion. The main issue you are facing is you can only be one place at a time, so are you missing something important elsewhere?. You will have to make the decision on where to be in the house and who to watch – and that is pretty much what you do, but it works so well.
With this being the case, you are certainly going to have to play through this a number of times in order to figure out what has happened and who did it. For one play through you are looking around 90 minutes, but I have been through it about five times and still don’t think I have witnessed everything that I could. The reason I feel this is I was still finding new things out on my fifth time playing it – and I will go back and make sure at some point. This opens the game for a number of playthroughs, and opens it to a unique experience each time – as you still try figure out… who killed Nikola Tesla?
Now, you might think playing the game over and over looking for new things might become repetitive, but what Tequila Works have done is include the ability for fast forward and rewind. Meaning you can skip through the scene if the person your following is not doing much, or rewind if you feel you missed something. Which is a nice little touch to help you with the game.
What really brings this murder mystery together is the whole presentation of the game. The game looks visually strong, and gives a strong representation of the virtual mansion you are in and exploring. However, I feel the character models sometimes are little weak, but they don’t take away from the immersion of the game. The writing and voice acting is all really well done, and as I’ve mentioned it’s going to take a number of playthroughs to get the whole story and notice everything, really does show how well the story-telling side is done in the game.
But, two things that really makes The Invisible Hour a stand out experience, and adds to the immersion are; how well its all choreographed and the use of the audio. Firstly, the choreography in the game is outstanding, as the whole game moves together, even if you are not watching or following the characters on the screen – it really does play-out like a theatre or TV show. As aforementioned the voice acting is done well, but the way the heavy rain (you start the game in) is banging of the windows or the echoes around the house, it all really brings the maximum use out of what VR offers. Saying this the game could have worked and been a great experience outside of VR, however, you can see why Tequila Works have decided to make it a VR experience.
Finally other than having control over the time in this virtual world you are placed in, you have a number of ways of moving. You can either teleport to where you want to be and view what is happening from or you can select a character to follow. If you decide to follow the character the camera will automatically move for you to set positions. I found that teleporting yourself is the best way, as from some of the set views if you choose to follow a character, you could miss something interesting. You can also find items around the house you can pick up and look at them be it newspaper articles/clippings or the gong beater in the lobby. Where this might not seem like a lot to do, the true beauty in The Invisible Hours is witnessing the story and the unique experience it offers. So, for me the simplified controls allows you to do this – without focusing on more than you need to.
Where it is quite hard to call The Invisible Hours a game, it certainly is VR experience like no other. Take part in your own Agatha Christie style murder mystery, and be taken in by not only the great immersion it offers, but also the choreography on display. With a great story, that requires a good number of playthroughs to fully witness/experience it all, showing how well its been written and put together. All taking place in a mansion with famous people from the past – this is what VR was made for.
Also available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality