Imagine watching a murder mystery on TV – and the recent BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is a perfect example because it has a very similar set-up: big house on a remote island with an odd assortment of guests – but instead of seeing only what the director wanted you to see, you could walk out of the frame and see for yourself what was going on elsewhere at the same time. Which secret conversations would you see, which personal revelations – which murders?
This is the premise of immersive theatre, where the whole imaginary world of a story unfolds around you, yours to explore – and in turn this is the premise of The Invisible Hours, a virtual reality experience made by Outlast and Rime developer Tequila Works. In The Invisible Hours you cannot affect the world beyond examining objects, and there is no game to win. Instead, you observe. You are a kind of ghost, free to wander. Where you go and what you see is up to you.
The thrill is in stumbling upon a secret, catching a character with their guard down and with their emotions or motives laid bare. Maybe it’s a sudden outpouring of grief in a secret part of the house, or perhaps it’s the real face and vulnerable truth of a character alone in their bedchamber (you can teleport through doors). It sparks a kind of excited guilt inside, a feeling of witnessing something you shouldn’t, a private moment, an intimate secret. It’s eerie and powerful.games