If you’ve been with us a while then you will know a few things about me – I love VR, Thrillers, Mysteries, Adventures, and Puzzle Games yet I really don’t like horror games or jump scares. So, why am I playing a horror based game in VR? Because it’s been done really well, that’s why! Dead Secret, from Robot Invader, is yet another game which crosses so many genres, it’s a Point-and-click game in VR with a psychological horror theme based on a murder mystery with the inclusion of paranormal entities who help you solve puzzles as you go on an adventure of a small building. And breathe!
Oh, and you can also play the game in non-VR mode as well if you wish to do so. However, my fear got the best of me and I changed from VR to non-VR towards the end and I’m glad I did!
Dead Secret is all about you, you are a small town girl who writes gossip columns for the local newspaper yet you dream of being so much bigger. A local scientist, who was living alone with a much younger woman, has recently died and you have been assigned to dig into the guy’s life in order to uncover some sordid details on their love affair. However, you have a keen eye for detail and you aren’t as quick to rule out this death as ‘natural’, unlike the local PD, so you set out to investigate the house and uncover what really happened and who or what caused his untimely death.
Throughout the game, you will be moving from room to room as you find out more about the story, uncover truths and optional information in the form of many articles and notes left around the house, all whilst looking out for the beings who still reside within the property. This game also loves its jump scares and time-sensitive moments, so be ready to react and think fast, otherwise, you’ll be next!
I was quite surprised when I first started playing Dead Secret as I was expecting a game with free movement where you can walk around and pick things up and what not – but you can’t. It’s basically a VR Point-and-click game where you have set places you can walk to in order to interact with things. By selecting these points your avatar will proceed to move on her own as you enjoy the ride – this can get really scary later on when you don’t have control as she moves. The game operates with the ‘look to select’ mechanism which I’m not too fond of (you have a reticule on the screen that moves with your head and what you look at is what you interact with) but in this game you aren’t required to bend and twist too much – so it isn’t an issue.
In order to actually interact or turn around though, you use the DS4 controller, as usual, you just can’t use it to move as you are limited to set points. This takes a little of getting used to, but once you have then it’s all fine. There is a lot of things to read in this game, from newspapers to notes left behind, there is a couple in almost every room – thankfully, the quality of the writing in VR is among the best I’ve seen on PSVR so far. All the fonts are easy to read and I had no issues at all with picking up the story and understanding what was going on – which is great as a lot of the story is delivered by things you find and read for yourself.
I stated that the game has puzzles in my opening statement and it does, only they are a little simple at times. You will tend to find something in one room which you can use in another in order to help you out, like the combination to a lock or a statute which must be matched with its pair in order to open a secret compartment. One of the earlier puzzles I enjoyed was the globe – there is a map on the wall with an X on it and you must find that location on the nearby globe in order to open it up. There is no explanation of this and no hand-holding telling you what to do, you just look around and put 2 and 2 together for yourself.
Early on in the game you will also gain the ability to hot-swap a mask which allows you to see the unseen. You wear the mask in order to see various spiritual entities as they stand there, silent and still, pointing at your next goal or warning you of something you shouldn’t do. At first, these freaked me out as I would go into this mode and there would be one right in front of me, staring right at me, but after an hour or so I was used to them popping up when you don’t expect it. What I didn’t expect was the antagonist…
Obviously, I’m not going to say who or what the antagonist is, but you are basically trying to explore and discover things whilst something is following you throughout the house. I mentioned before I had to stop playing in VR, this is because towards the end of the game the jump scares were getting to me a little too much, so I opted to play in non-VR as I felt I had reached my limit. A decision I believe was a good one as I still got a few jumps just playing it on the TV! The game thrives on the way it makes you feel – so unsettled and unnerved. Looking in the mirror to see someone stood behind you, the lights going out and hearing noises in the dark, a painting changing the second time you look at it, it all works in the favour of the game in order to creep you out.
I feel the worst thing about the experience is the fact you can’t move like I said previously. If you had full control and you could run away from that which is stalking you, then some of the fear and dread would be lost, but because you can only move in set locations and you’re simply a passenger in the head of the protagonist, it can get pretty intense at times. It also changes the aspect of the game from a ‘run away and hide’ game to a game where you are about to encounter a being yet you must quickly look around and see where you can hide or escape and then hope you have enough time to make it once you select it. It’s really clever and I’ve not seen another game in VR use this mechanic yet.
Dead Secret has also got five different endings for you to discover. There is no Platinum trophy, but there is a trophy for each of the endings. I managed to play through all of them without too much trouble although I had to look up one of them in order to get a hint on how to unlock it. The game isn’t too tricky and you should be able to do a run through in about two hours or so. However, if you want the full experience and seek out all of the documents and hidden cutscenes, then it could last you longer, only there is no trophy-based reward for doing so.
The VR effect in this game is really, really well done – especially when you look back and see it was one of the first VR games on both mobile and Steam. It does have its issues which I’ll look into but as a whole it was great. Whats the one thing that a lot of first-person flat, and even VR, games don’t bother to render? A Full body. Usually, you will have hands and maybe some feet, or breasts if you’re a woman and look down in VR (they are always there). Dead Secret fully renders the body at all times but without a head, as you’re the head. This looks great in the opening of the game where you are in the hallway in front of a big mirror and every move you make, the character imitates. It all looks seamless and smooth with no obvious joints or glitching, which is awesome.
However, when in VR mode, if you look down, you can sometimes see through your body as you’re just a head and you’re basically looking down and through the body mesh. This isn’t anything which should put you off the game, but I did notice it quite a few times when I was looking around for things – it’s basically early VR issues. Other than that though, I was really impressed with how the VR looked in terms of quality and how the developers had chosen to implement the movement, looking, interacting, and puzzle solving mechanics.
Graphically, I really enjoyed Dead Secret, both in VR and out of it. The only issue I would have is that when you select if you are in VR or not (as the game loads up) nothing changes other then the use of the headset. Basically, the UI from the VR – with the look to select and an inventory you have to look at to select things – is exactly the same when you play it in non-VR as well. So I feel the came could have had some tweaks to give the non-VR version its own UI. However, as I said before, everything is easy to read, easy to select, you can make out things in the distance and the VR is really clear compared to some other games out there.
There isn’t much music unless you choose to put the record on when you find it in-game – which I do recommend as it makes things seem 10x more disturbing. Instead, Dead Secret relies on the horrifying silence with noises in the distance, most of the time, which are there to unsettle you and get your heart pumping. Sure, it’s only a game, but it’s a game that messes with you. If you are used to these types of games and like the horror genre then you probably won’t mind anything this game does to creep you out, but when you jump easy, like me, this game messes with you.
Dead Secret is a really well thought out and executed VR game with many different genres all combined in order to deliver a memorable experience. Whether you enjoy exploring for backstory, running away from unknown beings, solving mysteries, or encountering jump scares, there is something for everyone. Not to mention the fact that you can play it in or out of VR all the way through from the start. Dead Secret delivers an intriguing and immersive story which had me gripped from the moment I started playing.
Due to the twists and turns and the truths you uncover as you investigate, you won’t know who the real culprit was until the very end when you must make a choice – a choice which you could still end up getting wrong if you don’t pay attention to whats going on around you. Dead Secret is a game which mystery, horror, exploration, and puzzle lovers should own.
- Interesting story and setting for the game
- Very unnerving and the game really builds the atmosphere as you play in VR
- The text in VR looks great and the controls are easy enough to use with a point-and-click mechanism
- Multiple endings and little quizzes along the story to keep you engaged and up to date on whats going on
- Can be played in both VR and non-VR day one
- Lots of jump scares in the second half (Some will like this, i'm not a massive fan)
- No UI change between VR and non-VR
- If playing in non-VR it doesn't feel as immersive (if you have VR, try and only play this in that mode)
- You can sometimes see down into your body when in VR