Watch out, there’s a flickering light in the trailer.
Developer: Game Zoo Studio Publisher: Pixmain Release date: September 13, 2022
It is worth preface this opus with a small warning: I am not very familiar with the SCP universe, I know about it by hearsay, and until now I assumed that it all consisted of wiki pages, simple indie crafts and one lawsuit, from which the sky seems to have saved.
Therefore, the very fact of the existence of SCP: Secret Files came as a surprise to me – a rather high-level first-person horror that has the audacity to be non-standard and diverse in terms of presentation of material, offering to read between the lines and provoking a thought, or maybe two … Miracle, real miracle.
Today I will try to tell as much as possible, but with a minimum of spoilers, about this miracle – as well as the lore that supports it, which is an important part of the local gaming experience.
Ladies and gentlemen – SCP: Secret Files. Go.
It would be better to work by education, Carl
So, the plot of the game is as follows: your name is Karl Astana, you are a graduate of a prestigious university and a lover of cafe pastries. One fine day, an organization called SCP shows interest in you – an international, super-secret structure for tracking, capturing and studying / holding a variety of paranormal phenomena.
You, Carl, do not be a fool, accept an invitation to work in the archives department of the organization. It is here, in the warm company of new colleagues and a strict boss, that you will experience a completely different, not always stable and always cognitively dissonant nature of the aforementioned paranormal phenomena classified as “SCP objects”.
Each object, at its core, is a separate game “level”, with an individual plot and a unique look at life and storytelling; the objects are in no way connected with each other and the main storyline – Karl’s line – is not affected in any way.
I see dead people… And attempts at gameplay, Carl
Let’s talk about the actual gameplay.
For the most part, SCP: Secret Files is a classic horror rpg, but with a nuance – occasionally, first-person campaigns are interrupted by eccentricity and mini-games. The ball, regardless of the format, is most often ruled by the context, not the action – in other words, what you do is not as important as why you do it.
An example – in the first “mission” you roll through the desert on a truck, collecting garbage and burning it in an industrial furnace. No, this is not “House Flipper” on the sand dunes, this is an anomaly work, the essence of which is kindly (and gradually) revealed to you by both the game itself and the aforementioned “interline” clues, which are more or less easily caught and often tell more, than some in-game texts and characters.
Therefore, in fact, not some exciting puzzles will move you forward along the passage, but simple human curiosity – you will die from the desire to know what is happening now and what will happen next.
No amount of mini-games a la “make a square of broken pieces” or “play a rhythm game” can affect this fact, and the gameplay in SCP: Secret Files is easily characterized as an auxiliary narrative tool, but not as a solid in-game aspect, going on an equal footing with other components.
Just don’t get me wrong, this is not exactly David Cage with his useless interactive Fahrenheit and Detroit – however, more due to the developers’ lack of money than desire.
You get to poke buttons on Carl’s computer, do a little bit of SCP-specific hardware… set fire to garbage, again. However, you will be doing all this in cramped, scripted conditions, since any freedom of action was sacrificed for the sake of the plot. Sorry.
We’re all a little SCP here, Carl
I suppose that after reading the previous paragraph, you ask yourself a completely logical question: is it worth it, the story told by the game? Do I even need all this paranormal business if I can’t even sneeze without the permission of the game engine?
The answer is yes. Need. Definitely.
It’s the storyline that SCP: Secret Files shines so desperately for: partly because the game is extremely good at introducing the most ignorant players into the SCP universe, partly because each SCP object holds a truly fascinating story, with well-measured suspense and climax …
Partly because the SCP universe as such is really SO good, and personally, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of writing – whether it’s a story about killer theatrical plays or about a little Scandinavian girl who can change reality.
Why, even the “intermediate” text entries about SCP objects that Carl archives in between “big” cases are read so excitingly that you can’t tear yourself away.
My favorite is about a seemingly non-working Japanese vending machine that produces drinks and snacks out of nowhere, and if you “overfeed” it with money, then instead of a conditional diet cola, you can get a mini-oven with still live game inside. Brr. The taste qualities of already cooked game are also given.
The only flaw in the storyline of SCP: Secret Files that I can think of at the moment is that the stories of SCP objects are much more interesting than the story of the protagonist.
As the game progresses, we learn very little about Karl, he barely reveals himself as a character, and nothing really happens to him; even the “unexpected”, it would seem, ending rather introduces bewilderment, rather than helps to feel the vicissitudes of Mr. Astana. It’s a pity, somewhere there something could be. 3 carla out of 10.
You’re a toaster now, Carl
Well, as long as we are at the negative points – the game still has some minor problems on the technical side. So, for example, here you can not change the screen resolution. Big sin. Also, if you try hard, in the dusk you can find a texture artifact, lack of textures, poorly drawn shadows …
However, such things are extremely, extremely rare. There are almost no major bugs at all – except that once I got stuck in the sound of a dialogue remark, but reloading the checkpoint quickly helped with this problem.
There is nothing more to report on the problems, and therefore – to the results!
SCP: Secret Files is a great pastime for those who want to immerse themselves in a decent narrative, and maybe a little nightmare for those who put gameplay at the forefront. That being said, the game looks good, sounds good, and is brimming with myriad thematic references that big SCP fans will love. And even if you suddenly do not make acquaintances with SCP – do not worry, they will briefly but fully explain to you where you are and what, in fact, the whole tsimes.
PS I just realized that I never once mentioned whether a scary game turned out to be a game or not. Unfortunately – and for someone fortunately – not very scary. You will startle a couple of times in surprise, be a little afraid of mysterious mannequins, but nothing more. In the later stages of the game, they don’t try to scare you at all – however, more by design than by negligence.
Good game Carl.
Reader Rating0 Votes
strong SCP atmosphere;
abundance of lore;
linearity, “rail” passage;
slightly sagging technical part;
faded main plot;
depression from history of SCP-239.