The Invisible Hours

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
The Invisible Hours Game Poster Image
Immersive mystery has players solve bloody murders.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While players try to solve a murder, the mature themes and content that are constantly shown make players question the situation and characters' dedication to justice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gamers don't play a character; instead, they're a ghost-like observer of seven suspects in a mansion and can roam from room to room and play back conversations. The suspects seem to have iffy morals and could be capable of murder.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn how to navigate a mansion from a first-person view as you listen in on conversations.

Violence

Lots of violence and blood, with various acts of murder shown. This includes someone stabbed with a knife, a man electrocuted by lightning, and someone bleeding out on the floor after getting slashed. Players don't commit violence, but they're witnesses to it.

Sex

No nudity shown, but some dialogue sequences refer to sexual innuendo/acts.

Language

Profanity includes uses of "bitch," "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol references in dialogue. One character is seen drinking whiskey; another is shown smoking a cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Invisible Hours is a first-person virtual reality (VR) murder mystery. The game deals with mature themes and has plenty of mature content. There are many scenes of murder and blood; while players don't commit acts of violence, they'll see characters getting stabbed, electrocuted, and injured in various ways. Similarly, while players won't see any scenes with sex, there are plenty of sexual innuendos and references to prostitution. Some characters are shown drinking and smoking, though not to excess. There's mild profanity, too, with the words "bitch" and "damn" used in conversation. Note: Virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

THE INVISIBLE HOURS is a single-player adventure game that's playable in both virtual reality (VR) and non-VR versions. Made in the style of an Agatha Christie whodunit, this murder mystery takes place in an alternate late 1800s. A group of strangers receives a mysterious invitation from enigmatic inventor Nikola Tesla, but when they arrive at his mansion, they find him murdered. Players freely explore and observe an intricate web of interwoven stories -- but your goal, of course, is to figure out who the murderer is, since the seven suspects each have different motives for killing Tesla. Time plays a critical role here, as all the suspects' stories unfold in real time, so the player must pause, rewind, and play sequences over and over again to see each person's perspective.

Is it any good?

Fans of slower-paced, story-driven adventure games will enjoy this murder mystery, whether it's in VR or in a traditional non-VR experience. The Invisible Hours is well-made from start to finish; all the scenes work cohesively to tell the story regardless of the order you watch them in. Each character's background story is interesting as well, so you do feel a connection with all of them (though some are a little over-the-top and campy at times). Those new to these kinds of games may want to stick to the first character you meet, Detective Gustav, as you can follow him around the mansion for the first few chapters to help look for clues.

Although not everyone will play the VR experience, it particularly stands out because it really conveys the sense of being inside the mansion, which provides a different perspective on the story. But there's a bit of a trade-off, because you don't smoothly walk from room to room in the VR version as you do with a mouse and keyboard (or game controller); instead, you simply teleport from place to place, but it's a similar overall experience. The only minor issue that arises is that murder mystery stories aren't for everyone. In other words, those who prefer fast-paced action games or deep role-playing game experiences need not apply. But if you're an adventure fan or a lover of whodunit stories, The Invisible Hours should keep your interest for a while.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. The Invisible Hours is a murder mystery. Would the story be just as effective if it didn't show such graphic scenes of violence?

  • Discuss screen-time limits. How can you set effective limits on gameplay when virtual reality games like The Invisible Hours are designed to be so immersive?

  • Talk about mysteries. What makes mysteries so intriguing? Is it the thrill of witnessing or reading about crimes, or is it the pursuit to bring criminals to justice?

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