Real-time adventures are a tough thing to pull off, which is probably why we get so few of them and The Last Express continues to be so beloved two decades after its release. But now Tequila Works is hoping to break into that space with The Invisible Hours, a murder mystery whodunit designed in the style of "immersive theater."
Inspired by classic crime stories like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and Hitchcock's Rear Window, The Invisible Hours is set in the late 1800s at the estate of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, who has been working on a highly secretive project since abruptly disappearing from social life. Now he has invited seven different guests to his mansion, offering "each of them the chance to make amends for their darkest wrongdoings." Just as they arrive, however, Tesla is found murdered, meaning one of them is logically the culprit. One such visitor, "disgraced Swedish detective, Gustaf Gustav, vows to find the killer amongst the other guests: a blind butler, a convicted murderer, the world’s most famous actress, Tesla’s former assistant, the son of a wealthy railroad magnate, and rival inventor Thomas Edison. But none of these people are what they seem."
Unlike most mystery adventures, players don't control Gustav in The Invisible Hours. Instead, while each guest goes about their business after the murder, you are an invisible observer who cannot affect the stories playing out before you. As events carry on in real time, the result is "seven very different but intersecting stories happening simultaneously. The player must carefully choose where to spend their time, offering a different perspective each time," though you can rewind and fast-forward time in order to see alternate scenes along the way. You can also interact privately with the environments, and in snooping around you can discover important new clues you wouldn't have access to otherwise.
Created by the Spanish studio responsible for RiME and (collaboratively) The Sexy Brutale, The Invisible Hours was first launched on virtual reality devices devices late last year, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. As of today, however, this "spherical narrative" game is also available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.