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Video Game / The Invisible Hours

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The Invisible Hours is a Virtual Reality Environmental Narrative Game in which the player moves freely through the set of an unfolding Historical Fiction drama, invisible and intangible. You can interact with the environment in a few limited ways, but you cannot affect the narrative or the characters of the story.

Six guests have come to Nikola Tesla's private island mansion, following a series of mysterious invitations. When the last one arrives, they find Tesla lying dead in the front hall of his home. With no way on or off the island, it is clear that one of the guests (or the butler) must have been the killer. But they each have secrets and designs of their own, and none of them are inclined to sit and wait for the police. Their unique ambitions and plots turn what begins as a Fair-Play Whodunnit into a grand, multi-party fiasco.


The cast of characters in this drama includes:

  • Nikola Tesla, the genius engineer and murder victim.
  • Gustaf Gustav, "the detective so good they named him twice." Formerly with the Swedish police, Gustav arrives too late to have committed the crime. He immediately sets himself the goal of solving the murder, to the other guests' dismay.
  • Flora White, Tesla's former lab assistant. She was not an invited guest - she came to ask a favor from Tesla, and now that he's gone she can take what she wants without bargaining.
  • Oliver Swan, Tesla's blind, black indentured servant. Tesla's death leaves Swan without protection in a society where he is little more than a slave. On top of that, he left a son behind in Jamaica who is always on his mind.
  • Thomas Edison, the great inventor and businessman. With Tesla dead, Edison's first concern is for his own self-interest.
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  • Sarah Bernhardt, the famous stage actress. Her first move after the murder is discovered to try to manipulate every man in the house to be her protectors.
  • Augustus Vanderberg, the only son and heir of a British railroad magnate. Augustus just wants to keep his head down and avoid disappointing his father.
  • Victor Mundy, a convicted murderer who killed his wife decades earlier. He Just Got Out of Jail. He is torn between a desire to reform and a need to hunt down his daughter, who testified against him, and kill her too.

The Invisible Hours provides examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: Tesla. His pistol has no bullets.
  • The Alcoholic: Implied for Gustaf. His letter to Tesla specifically asks the host not to offer him any drinks, but he carries a flask on his person and goes for it when he's stressed.
  • All There in the Manual: The letters, newspaper articles, and diary entries scattered around the mansion provide context for the characters that doesn't come out in their dialog. Tesla in particular can only be explained through his notes.
  • Artistic License – History: There is the obvious - the real Tesla died of natural causes in 1943, no such person as Augustus Vanderberg exists, Elon Musk was never contacted by a time-traveling Tesla, etc. But some things cannot be explained wholly by Historical Fiction concepts or time-traveling shenanigans:
    • The historical Sarah Bernhardt was born in 1844 and died in 1923. In the time this game takes place, she'd either already be dead or much, much older than her appearance would suggest.
    • Before 1965, the penalty for murder in Britain was death. After 1965, the penalty was a mandatory life sentence. Any way you slice it, Victor Mundy should not be alive and free.
    • Laudanum is referred to as "poison", but in Christie Time it was still a relatively common painkiller.
  • Butt-Monkey: Vanderberg. Everyone assumes he's well off because he's rich. In reality, he is put upon by nearly everyone in the story, particularly his offscreen father. Only Swan shows him any sympathy.
  • Closed Circle: The only way on or off the island is by ferry, and Gustav is on the last one to arrive. That leaves everyone trapped in the mansion, tangled in each other's affairs.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Plenty, including two guns, three knives, two pocket-watches, an umbrella, some of Tesla's inventions, and a bottle of laudanum.
  • Christie Time: The technology on display and a few references to the Great War suggest this time period.
  • Easter Egg: Achievements are tied to finding each one.
  • Disney Villain Death: Gustav is thrown off a cliff by Swan. A player standing in the right place will see him land in the water, but not enough time passes to know if he would or could come back up.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Everyone. Many, many mistakes are made because each character makes decisions without knowing the whole story.
  • Environmental Narrative Game: The player can travel anywhere in the house or grounds at any time, pick up any loose object for further examination, and freeze, rewind, or fast-forward the action. They cannot alter the story, but they can go through it at their own pace and from whatever angle they want.
  • Femme Fatale: Sarah, and she makes no effort to hide it.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the first things anyone says about Tesla is that he "looks old." This is because it's actually another Tesla from the future, who came back to this time to die.
    • A newspaper article in Tesla's bedroom is dated 1943, and describes Tesla's death - not by murder in his home, but by suicide in a hotel decades later.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the Omega Ending, Tesla contacts the player through the Spirit Radio, and unlocks a door in the theatre in which the game is being 'played'. It opens into Room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel, and from the other side of a locked door, Tesla tells you about his plan to invoke Tricked Out Time... by having you jump from his hotel balcony in his place.
    Tesla: ...You wanted to be part of this story. Well now you are.
  • Gambit Pileup: The Invisible Hours begins with a murder. The cast all suspect each other, and their suspicions and plotting lead to two more murders, one attempted murder, and a Stable Time Loop that results in the first murder.
  • Gayngst: If what Sarah says is true, then Vanderberg is homosexual. Given the time period, this understandably causes Augustus a lot of distress.
  • Great Detective: Gustav has the chops - good observational skills, memory, deductive reasoning ability, and a nose like a bloodhound.
  • Hidden Depths: Everyone looks down on Victor for his brutish manners and criminal background. But he shows a surprising knowledge of poetry and art, and can recite Shakespeare from memory.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Tesla. Using super-science to change history for the better should qualify.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Edison. From the start, he is acknowledged to be a thief and a self-important Jerkass. He goes on to be a murderer and a Karma Houdini.
  • Impostor Forgot One Detail: Students of theater history will be suspicious of 'Sarah Bernhardt' immediately because the historical Bernhardt was famously a redhead. None of the other characters notice, until finally someone finds a clue they cannot ignore: 'Sarah' is still carrying around her passport with her real name: Marie Mundy.
  • Interface Spoiler: The player can distinguish a Chekhov's Gun from other objects by how it glows yellow when selected. These items then appear in the theater for the player to examine at their leisure.
    • In the theater, eight portraits let you select which character to follow during any given chapter - eight, including Tesla. One might ask why Tesla merits a portrait, given how he's dead from the start of the game and his body is never moved.
  • Internal Reveal: Constantly. The player (being an invisible, time-manipulating voyeur) is in a position to learn all manner of secrets, including some that the rest of the cast never finds out.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Vanderberg tries to kill himself with poisoned whiskey in Chapter 1, but is stopped by Swan. Then Edison finds the bottle...
  • It's All About Me: Edison's self-importance is apparent from his first lines. His plotline his driven by a misunderstanding about poisoned whiskey that he drank, which he stole from Vanderberg's room - despite the circumstances, he refuses to believe it wasn't meant for him.
  • Karmic Death: Victor Mundy is struck dead by lightning as he advances on 'Sarah' with intent to kill. This after challenging god to strike him down less than 20 minutes earlier.
  • Karma Houdini: After Gustav is shoved off a cliff, it would appear that Edison will get away with killing Vanderberg. And since Gustav was carrying Flora's duplicate locket, the only evidence linking her to Tesla's death is gone, too.
  • Lost Will and Testament: Tesla's will is destroyed by Swan, who was enraged that Tesla didn't leave him anything. This leads to further complications and misunderstandings.
  • My Greatest Failure: Every character has one.
    • Gustaf Gustav let a murderer go free, and they killed nine other people.
    • Flora White lost her husband in The Great War, and holds herself responsible for not stopping him from enlisting.
    • Oliver Swan escaped slavery in Jamaica, but left his son behind. This leads him to make a connection with Augustus early on, who lacks a positive father figure.
    • Thomas Edison stole the design for the phonograph.
    • Augustus Vanderberg lost his brother in a boating accident. One of the letters suggests Tesla thought it was more like a Hunting "Accident".
    • Sarah Bernhardt is actually Marie Mundy. Her 'mistake' is shared with Victor Mundy.
    • Victor Mundy murdered his wife. Or possibly he failed to kill his daughter. It's difficult to say which problem he would rather correct.
    • Nikola Tesla thinks that he used his time machine selfishly. To correct for this, he intends to use its power to assist others.
  • The Nose Knows: Gustav, sitting in the dining room downstairs, can somehow smell smoke from the fireplace in the room above him.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Swan is not blind. His act is good enough to fool the guests, who don't know any better, but the signs are there as early as chapter 1 for an observant player.
  • Omega Ending: A hidden ending unlocks if you use the spirit radio after you witness three deaths.
  • Red Right Hand: "Sarah Bernhardt" has a false nose, and a player who enters her room at the right time when she's alone can see what she looks like without it.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Gustav correctly divines that Edison killed Vanderberg, but gets the motive completely wrong.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Tesla planned to offer this service to his five guests. Flora wanted this too, but Tesla refused her because he thought The Needs of the Many outweighed her husband's life.
  • Silly Will: Victor Mundy leaves all his possessions to his dog, Lucky, in a document riddled with spelling errors.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Tequila Works' earlier The Sexy Brutale. Both games involve observing multiple storylines that are going on at the same time, and being in the right place at the right time to find clues. The map function is very similar, allowing the player to scroll through a timeline that shows where characters are at which time only if they've been seen at that point.
  • Stable Time Loop: Tesla is killed by Flora who traveled back in time in Chapter 0, thereby setting off the series of events that will allow Flora from Chapters 1-4 to eventually travel back in time.
  • Surprise Checkmate: Edison plays a very short chess game against Tesla's mechanical turk, losing by Fool's Mate. This is an early indicator that Edison is not at all the genius he pretends to be.
  • Surprise Incest: Victor takes liking to Sarah at once, and she seems to reciprocate. He even plans to elope with her, before he discovers her true identity.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: Mundy talks to God when he's alone, asking for a sign to show what he should do.

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