Dead Secret Circle – Review
Follow Genre: Mystery, Horror, Detective, VR
Developer: Robot Invader
Publisher: Robot Invader
Platform: PC, macOS (Steam)
Tested on: PC (no VR)

Dead Secret Circle – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Pushing many of the right buttons
Bad: Some extras were added with some bugs left
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Horror-themed VR games are not exactly rare. That’s no surprise given that the immersive experience VR gives, is extremely well suited for this. A detective VR game is then a lot more uncommon. Dead Secret Circle is a combination of both, making it work through clever storytelling. It’s the sequel to Dead Secret and is taking place 5 years after the original story.

Story

Like most detectives, you’re a reporter trying to identify and catch a serial killer that has outsmarted the police since the beginning. Unlike most  games in this genre, you have been exposed to a mind-altering experiment which causes your dreams and reality to flow into each other. You are a young journalist that recently quit a newspaper to start as a freelancer, a result from the death of your mother and the mental suffering it brought you. All this is explained by thought bubbles that appear when you select objects that reminds you of your past, as in dialogues with the apartment block.

This apartment block is the main place you’ll be investigating after you received an anonymous tip that the serial killer in question – called The Laughing Man – is somehow connected to that place. Right away you start to dream of this location in which you are hunted by some grotesque humanoid with a knife. As you then visit the place in real life, your job is to collect clues and connect them in order to unmask the killer and find a missing girl that’s been mentioned in your dreams. The replayability is in order since there are several possible endings and collectibles to be found.

Graphics

The graphics are a tad outdated but still good enough. The creators of Dead Secret Circle obviously had the goal to add as much realism as possible to the daytime environment. The rooms are littered with stuff, appliances and furniture, but not in a way that it’s unreasonable for an item to be there. A lot of stuff is functional too and you can open most cabinets, drawers and doors you encounter. Many more items that aren’t functional at a point still have a fitting comment from your character. Some functionality is missing though, like flipping the light switch. Another issue is sometimes when you open a door you ‘teleport’ to a fixed position before that door, which makes the game less fluent.

A more practical issue is with the text and messages. As it is intended for VR they sometimes floats around the center of the screen, which is following your cursor. On lower resolutions this means that you just can’t read the whole text. Another issue is when text is around an object you triggered or looked at, you might miss it because you shifted your viewpoint to something else. They did put a nice feature in the game where your character’s eyes follow your direction of sight. They must be very proud of it because they decorated many rooms with mirrors.

In the distorted dream world things on the edge of your view start to disintegrate, giving a really cool effect. Here you are chased by the serial killer in a sort of demon form. From up close his character doesn’t look that good at all, but still, you will run. Getting caught results in a murdering scene where liters of blood sprout out of your body. Characters in the real world look better, but certain features like eyes or mouths are up for improvement.

Sound

The sound has everything you might wish for. Sure, the laughing of ‘The Laughing Man’ sounds a bit cheap but for everything else it’s on point. Turning the faucet on results in a stream of water with the appropriate sound. Running through an empty corridor triggers a rhythmic background sound pattern. Getting chased by and caught up by the serial killer results in increasingly dramatic music while being in your apartment alone is supported by a sad but slow background music. You own character gives plenty of verbal comments and all other characters can speak as well. The game studio didn’t miss a thing here!

Gameplay

This being a horror, mystery and detective VR-oriented game, the emphasis lays on simple controls and an experience optimized for VR-glasses. This doesn’t mean that the game isn’t playable on an ordinary PC (given you have a large enough screen resolution as mentioned before). You move around with arrow keys or WASD (sadly doesn’t map to the proper keys on AZERTY-keyboards though) and click things with your mouse. A right click opens the menu with all options in a circle, bringing back some nice original Tomb Raider memories. The menu itself is also a nicely done: it’s a room with a desk. Scrolling through options results in papers being moved around and such. Some menu items are in the drawers, but all important ones are just right in front of you (if you look the right way).

So as you move around you’ll collect files, papers and photos. These can be read and give information, which need to be used later. After collecting all required pieces of information you have to go to your bulletin board and try to find a connection. You should read and evaluate all pieces of information for this, or random click things until it’s accepted. Another part is asking questions and conversing with the inhabitants of the apartment block, each having their own secrets and personality. Some puzzles can be found and need to be solved for additional rewards or collectibles. Finally, in the nightmare episodes you have to hide or run from The Laughing Man. Often there are several options to hide, but not all of them are safe…

Conclusion

This is a solid VR game, but also a solid mystery horror detective. The story, and especially your background, is complex but entertaining and intriguing. The clues and the board are well thought out and offer varied and challenging puzzles to solve. The graphics and especially the sound lifts this game up over its similar themed counterparts. We encountered some graphical glitches though when triggering the menu, and had to Alt-F4 the game to get out. Still, a must have for VR adepts and a fun game for all mystery lovers!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Dead Secret Circle - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sander
Sander


Always having more things to do than time to do them, I like spending several of those precious free hours playing games and rating them.

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