Everyone loves a good murder mystery, and that’s exactly what you get with Dead Secret. Set in 60s rural Kansas, you play as a reporter who takes it upon herself to investigate the death of Harris Bullard. Convinced that there was an element of foul play, you arrive at the professor’s house and begin searching for clues. It’s not long before a conspiracy starts to unravel and you realise that someone – or something – may still be in here with you.
Although played in first person, Dead Secret is an adventure game through and through. There are occasional moment of action but, for the most part, you’ll be moving between rooms, collecting and piecing together clues as you soak in the game’s atmosphere. Having that first person perspective has the benefit of feeling more natural as you search your surroundings, peeking around surfaces for evidence. It was a necessary design choice too, given the game’s VR roots, though the developer has included a “flat” mode for those who don’t own a headset or would prefer to play without. It’s not the preferred method of play and you’ll lose that added degree of immersion VR lends to the overall experience.
Like all great adventure games, Dead Secret is cleverly laid out and, bar the occasional dream sequence, takes place solely within the Bullard estate. You can’t immediately explore the entire house, as rooms are inaccessible via locked doors or puzzles that require items you won’t find until you progress past a certain point in the story. This allows the game to unfold at a steady, controlled pace instead of dropping players in at the deep end.
The puzzles are all fairly straightforward, though require players to employ their observational skills, remembering certain items and locations while consulting your field notes. As you fill out this journal, you’ll begin to learn more about the four lead suspects, their connection to Bullard, and what motives they might have for possibly killing him. Was it the estranged wife, the errand boy, the new assistant, or his former research partner?
There’s a slight horror twist to the game too, which helps to ramp up the tension, as well as bizarre breakaway sections drawing you deeper in Dead Secret’s mythos. Those who want to go all-in will find not one, but five possible endings, though an average playthrough should last roughly three hours. In truth, it’s the perfect size for a game of this scope, cutting off before it can begin to outstay its welcome.
While not as visually impressive as a lot of games for PSVR, Dead Secret manages a convincing sense of place veined with an eerie atmosphere. It’s also sparing in its use of jump scares, knowing just when to wind up the tension or give the player a quick, sharp poke.
Dead Secret lasts for just a few sittings, but it’s a game you’ll walk away from satisfied. As bigger studios keep fumbling around for a VR blockbuster blueprint, indies like Robot Invader continue to fill in the gaps with smaller, more experimental games.
Version tested: PlayStation VR