The Invisible Hours unwinds over the course of 90 or so fraught minutes, and you’re able to manipulate time in order to experience it all. This brilliant narrative feast from RIME developer Tequila Works sees several famous historical figures – Thomas Edison! Sarah Bernhardt! – invited to Nikola Tesla’s mansion moments before his murder. You’re then free to follow individual cast members or simply explore the rest of the house in order to discover who killed him.
Everything within the manor occurs like clockwork, so while you may be in the dining room with Swedish detective Gustaf Gustav and ex-con Victor Mundy, there may be conversations occurring in the kitchen between fired assistant Flora White and blind butler Oliver Swan. Sometimes you’ll overhear the end of these discussions while you’re doing something else – or you may catch movement from one of the cast in the corner of your eye.
The beauty is that you’re free to see the story unravel however you wish. You can, for example, stay fixed to one character and follow all of their movements. Alternatively, you can remain in the corner of a single room. Or you can go wherever you fancy and see what’s happening all around the house. Everything’s choreographed to crossover, so you need to replay the same period of time over and over in order to learn the full extent of the story.
For convenience, you can pause, fast-forward, and rewind time if you’ve already experienced a particular scene or simply want to speed up the process. It all means that, having seen the story through once, you’ll probably still be missing key pieces of the puzzle, and so it’s time to start everything over from a different perspective and fill in the blanks. There are a couple of moments where characters will stand or sit around awkwardly waiting for their next cue, but generally there’s always something going on.
This form of fly on the wall storytelling could only really be achieved in a video game, and while the virtual reality perhaps isn’t integral to the experience, it does give you a connection to the characters that simply couldn’t be achieved on a flat screen. Despite some visual fuzziness, you really do feel like you’re in a room with an irate Thomas Edison, for example, and that’s an achievement on its own. More importantly, you feel like you exist within a living, breathing space – and that’s incredible.
We’ll be bringing you a review of The Invisible Hours later in the week, but does the concept appeal to you at all? Find out whodunnit in the comments section below.