There have been a few VR games that have been converted in to a regular style game making it accessible to everyone who don’t necessarily own a VR device. Some have done relatively well whereas others not so much, but that is where The Invisible Hours comes in. It’s a different gaming experience to what most players would be used to. But to say that The Invisible Hours is a unique experience that has never been done before wouldn’t necessarily be the whole truth, as games like this have been done countless times but this offers something a little different to the rest. It’s narrative is where this game looks to succeed and stand out from the crowd in terms of an immersive experience that grips the player. While it is fairly unique in its own little style, we have seen so many games before it that adopts a similar style in story telling but it’s in its narrative and how things unfold that gives this game its uniqueness.
The story is a murder mystery within a massive mansion where the host of the gathering is killed on site with each and every character being a suspect, including the detective conducting the investigation. The real grittiness here though is provided by the fact that each and every character in the game have a huge secret relating to why they are in that house in the first place. There are dirty secrets, conspiracies, scandals and so much more to take in within the main story and it all ties in incredibly well. This kind of story telling could be mistaken for being something right out of Agatha Christie’s top draw of novels. Its story and how things unfold with its twists and turns is certainly something that stuck in my mind for a while after completion. Each character has there own little story within the main story line and it is imperative that players experience every one of these character specific story lines to truly get the full narrative experience that The Invisible Hours has to offer. Doing this obviously encourages multiple play throughs but by doing so will give you a very intense but enjoyable story.
Gameplay is almost non existent in The Invisible Hours which is disappointing but this is mainly down to the fact that it has been converted from initially being a Virtual Reality title. It almost acts as a “fly on the wall” scenario with not much else to do other than move the camera around the house, following whichever character you choose to concentrate on from a narrative point of view. Things around the house can be interacted with though, like letters relating to the story, some diary entries and a few other things that give a little deeper insight in to the characters and why they are all together in the mansion.
There is also a fast forward and rewind feature that can be used just in case you want to see what was actually going on in the dining room while the detective was talking to someone else in the library. It’s a clever feature and one that can be used as often or as little as you want. It really does depend on how you want to take in the whole experience whether that be rewinding scenes or by doing multiple play throughs but if players are expecting a deep gameplay experience then they are going to be very disappointed because this is essentially a story to be watched and observed rather than played. While the gameplay is shallow what there is of it is pretty solid but it’s limitations could be the games main downfall also limiting its appeal to only a certain amount of players depending on their taste in gaming experiences.
There is very little to the visual style of The Invisible Hours and while it isn’t an ugly looking game, it’s certainly not very appealing either. It’s very clear from the get go that this art style has been implemented to coincide with its Virtual Reality release, which makes it all the more disappointing that there really hasn’t been much done to improve the visual style to cater for its general release. I would have hoped that the developers would have done something to increase visual fidelity and improve on them for a non VR release, just to add something extra for regular console players. Animations are jerky and very limited in terms of flowing movement. Character models are very basic looking and don’t have much detail at all with things like hair and lip syncing being very stiff and almost dated looking. The scenic approach isn’t too bad though with some lighting effects that really add to the mood setting of the game and the mansion itself is fairly well represented.
While it’s story is its main strength, it’s main weakness is how the story is acted out. The voice acting at times is dreadful, with wooden acting that sounds like it’s being read from a script by robots. It’s unfortunate that the character representation is so monotone, especially when you consider how gripping the story ends up being. Some of the actors are better than others but none of them really have a stand out performance and I feel that for such an integral part of a game of this style, I really would have expected a lot more from the developers to really nail down the characters performance. The Invisible Hours is a game that will appeal to very few gamers outside of the VR version and while it has its charm and gripping story, it’s sadly let down by its very noticeable shortfalls and is severely lacking in areas that could of been done so much better. The story is great but the rest of it isn’t.