Developed by Tequila Works, the Spanish group who brought us RiME, The Sexy Brutale, and Deadlight, among others, and published by Gametrust, The Invisible Hours is an intriguing take on a murder mystery. Players have the freedom to explore the grounds of a large mansion for hidden clues, or follow along the complex interwoven storyline as it is acted out by a number of characters in the cast. I say acted out because the whole game is presented as a stage play of sorts. It even starts with the orchestra tuning and warming up as you start the game in a box seat of a theater.
The premise showcases a group of strangers being invited by enigmatic inventor, Nikola Tesla, to a mansion laboratory to make amends for their darkest wrongdoings. When the final guest makes an appearance, they find him murdered. Gustaf Gustav, a disgraced Swedish detective, promises to find the killer among the rest of the guests. These guests include that of a blind butler, a renowned actress, a convicted murderer, one of Tesla’s former assistants, Thomas Edison and more. The kicker here is that no one is as they seem and it falls to you to follow the narrative how you please.
Gameplay is fairly simple. You can move around the mansion, listen in on the conversations between all of the invited guests, you can stop, rewind, and fast forward time to make sure you catch all of the story, and examine various objects and clues throughout the estate. It really is more like a slightly interactive stage play as there is nothing you can do to affect how the story plays out. It’s very interesting how various plot points play out simultaneously in different parts of the mansion and thanks to your time controlling abilities you can witness them all.
It really makes the tangled web of storylines that much more appreciable. The player really is nothing more than a silent ghost witness on a scavenger hunt to unlock all of the achievements. In the looks department, The Invisible Hours’ mansion is much like many mansions in gaming. Hidden passages, secret rooms, and a slightly maze-like floor plan lend itself well to the story making, the mansion itself almost a character in its own way. Character models are fairly descent and the animations are well done. Mostly.
The audio department did a wonderful job with a dark, moody sound track. Environmental sound effects like wind and lightning enhance the atmosphere. The voice acting is usually pretty good and only slightly exaggerated, which I find forgivable in this case as it again reminds me of watching a stage play. Unfortunately The Invisible Hours is not good for much more than a few hours of entertainment. Unless of course you are determined to unlock all of the achievements. There are a few secret achievements that should serve as a challenge. The question is do you have the fortitude to endure following the same story over and over while trying to figure it out?
All in all The Invisible Hours is a good story for a rainy day. I’m not sure the content and gameplay justify the price tag but it is an enjoyable experience all the same. I use the word “experience” only because I hesitate to actually call it a game. The developer actually says as much right from the start. I’m not going to go into any details about the characters as they are what make up the whole experience. I was going to recommend staying away from one particular character’s story arc until after you followed all the others but realized that may spoil a surprise twist so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut.
The Invisible Hours undoubtedly offers up a good story, but the shallow portion of content and overly lax gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. It’s well worth a run through if you enjoy a good whodunnit, though with that being said, this is less of a game and more of a marginally interactive experience. Still, it’s well crafted and engaging nevertheless.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.