I do love a good mystery.
It’s why, when presented with a game like Dead Secret, I’m willing to put up with some wonky game mechanics and less than stellar audio and visuals to see it through to its end. The unknown fascinates me, and being able to uncover the truth about something is an opportunity I just can’t miss.
The pursuit of a scoop
Placing you in the shoes of a journalist with lofty ambitions, the mystery at the heart of Dead Secret is a death. The reclusive Harris Bullard has supposedly died due to illness. There were no signs of forced entry into his house, nor were there any wounds or marks to suggest any foul play. But something just doesn’t quite add up. So, with a number of possible suspects in mind, you venture to his abode to see if you can snag a scoop.
Played from a first-person perspective, Dead Secret immerses you from the get-go. Available on PC for a while, and now also on PlayStation 4, you can play it in VR if you wish to truly get lost in it. Though whether you play it in VR or not, you’ll still have to put up with its rather cumbersome control method, which has you pointing and clicking at areas and objects of interest to move around.
Lightly teasing the brain
Much of your time is spent reading documents and solving puzzles. Thankfully though, these are the more interesting aspects of the game. While there’s nothing in Dead Secret that’s truly going to tax your brain, it at least makes you think a little. And the documents that you find flesh out a truly intriguing story. Harris Bullard, it seems, had many secrets. Discovering them while also gaining more insight about his acquaintances kept me on the edge of my seat.
Behind the mask
What didn’t quite work for me were the horror elements of the game. Or at least the more ‘in your face’ moments of horror. While the visuals do little to impress and audio isn’t of the greatest quality, at times they do work together to create a feeling of unease. Then, however, you’ll sometimes be faced with a masked assailant. In these moments it’s up to you to make a snap decision as to where to run or hide. Get it right and the game will progress. Get it wrong and you’ll simply die.
Such trial and error is never really fun, but the infrequency of your run-ins with the masked freak at least keeps your frustration to a minimum. For the most part, Dead Secret just lets you get on with exploring and solving puzzles at your leisure. To that end, a playthrough is likely to take you around three hours. And with multiple endings to discover, it’s possible you’ll delve back into it once again.
Go into Dead Secret aware that it’s a simplistic adventure primarily made for VR and your expectations will be kept in check. Possessing a story that will grip you until the credits roll, its mostly drab audio and visuals won’t matter so much when you’re trapped in its embrace. And its lack of challenge will just keep your progression rolling at an enjoyable pace.