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The Invisible Hours Review

A Virtual Mystery Theatre like no other

Reviewed by Griffin on 15th October 2020 on Windows Mixed Reality

Review

I played this on an

I7 7700k

GTX 1080 Ti

16GB Ram

WMR HP Reverb

The Invisible Hours makes itself very clear it is not a game, it is not a movie, it is a piece of immersive theatre, but for the simplicity of this review I shall be referring to it as a game, but please keep this caveat in mind while you read.

It's pretty hard to talk about The Invisible Hours without spoiling the game for you, as this is a murder mystery game. I will therefore try to keep all story elements as vague as possible and wont be going into details on the characters or mystery itself.

The story is a murder mystery akin to something out of an Agatha Christie Novel, though it is uniquely told in a way that only really works in a video game format (preferably VR).

There are four chapters to the game and in every one you are free to explore the house or follow any of the characters you choose. By its very design you are encouraged to roam around yourself and be in the right places at the right moment.

My main gripe with the game is that once you have completed a chapter you are free to (and even softly told) to move on to the next, however that is not how the game should be played nor how it really wants to be experienced, though the game did not convey this clearly to me. To get the 'proper' experience you will want to play everything in the chapter before moving on. This seems like an inherent design flaw in the game that it only requires that you to get to the end of a chapter before it unlocks the next. The game should have gated this off and unlocked it instead by either having spent a certain amount of time following a character or the amount of key events you have witnessed.

The story is a bit of a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Between the 7 characters there is always three or so events taking place, combined with the journals, newspaper clippings, and letters to find and read I almost found it overwhelming to follow everything that was going on.

In true mystery fashion I suspected correctly the killer early on but could not guess how they did it, and as the story unravels I found there was no way I would have been able to figure it out.

Graphics & Presentation

From a graphical point the game is not great, everything is a little muddy and blurry from both the texture quality to the sharpness of the visuals. The game gives you two graphics options: super sampling and AA of which none seem to work well, and the game is always a little blurry and out of focus.

I also seemly encountered some graphical glitches around some of the small parts of the characters face like eye lids. This may have been due to the AA, but I did not do sufficient testing to be sure.

Sound FX & Music

While all of the performances themselves were good, the characters did have a tendancy to feel a touch too hammy or needlessly designed, but I guess that is par for the course in a who done it mystery.

Since the game is linear with no deviation the music was impeccably timed and well performed, and it really helped as to the suspense and atmosphere at any given time.

Gameplay & Immersion

The gameplay is pretty much non existent as it pretty much consists of listening to character or reading the journals and notes scattered around the island. You will swap between the stage play story mode and theatre setting which gives you a timeline of events.

Controls

The controls worked fine and everything supported WMR well.

One partly control issue, partly design issue, is that to watch a chapter you can either start from the beginning or start part way by selecting a key event, however I would have much preferred to start a chapter already following a character as the alternative is start at the beginning and hunt around the house until you find them or to find them in a key event and rewind in time. This however spoils what they are going to do as you now have to watch the events backwards.

The game features a fast forward and rewind option, the fast forward is handy as you can skip though and event you may have already seen or what not, however as mentioned the rewind ends up just spoiling what ever event you are trying to watch.

I think possibly a much better option would have been a timeline scrubber within the stage play part (rather than in the theatre part)

Value & Replayability

In terms of Replayability you will want to play each chapter at least 5 times more to also get all the collectibles and extra story bits, but once you have completed the story there really is not much point in returning to the game. At $40 Local Currency I found the asking price to be a bit steep, but possibly if you are a big murder mystery fan this will be worth your time.

Final Thoughts

The Invisible Hours is a very passive experience that tells an incredibly interwoven mystery but gives the player a little too little direction in how it clearly wants to be experienced. If you are expecting a game, this is not it. If you are expecting a murder mystery to watch and enjoy, this is a one of a kind experience.

  • The Performances are good
  • There is so much going on to experience
  • It can be easy to get lost or experience something 'incorrectly'
  • The visuals were mediorce
  • Some of the characters were a bit hammy at times

Reviewed by Griffin on 15th October 2020 on Windows Mixed Reality

6 out of 10

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The Invisible Hours
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