[TEST] SCP: Secret Files: Horror, Humor & Minigames

You may be familiar with the SCP Foundation, a compilation of fan fiction centered around real-world anomalies that are said to be hidden by this foundation for the betterment of humanity. The members make up little stories that sometimes lean towards creepypastas, sometimes silly stories, and quite often the source of the problem is something that needs to be locked behind thick armored doors. It is in this universe that GameZoo Studio decided to develop SCP: Secret File, mixing genres, for better and for worse. Not really a fan of horror games – and that’s an understatement – part of the game, while well done, was particularly uncomfortable for me. And the rest, an alternation of funny stories and uninteresting mini-games.

Gender : Anthology of short horror FPS and bells and whistles of other stuff | Developer: Game Zoo Studio | Publisher: Pixmain | Platform : steam | Recommended configuration: Intel i7-3770 or AMD equivalentNVIDIA GTX 1660 / AMD Radeon RX 590, 16GB RAM | Price : 12.49 | Languages: VOST in French | Release Date : 09/13/2022 | Lifespan : 5 hours

Test performed on an editor version.

The good atmosphere

Ha, but it’s a horror game? I did not understand that…

Let’s just say it straight away, horror games aren’t my thing. But why did I start SCP: Secret File? Mainly because of these Fuck Steam Tags! “Adventure”, “Storytelling”, “Atmosphere”, “Mystery”… Make no mistake, readers, it is indeed a horror game and more: it is an anthology. A good part of the experience consists of very classic sequences: moments of shock who often feel miles away, and by large invincible monsters that one has to flee at random from dead-end corridors only to be almost certain to re-enter the passageway multiple times.

But let’s not rush it and return to the playing field: we play as a new member of the SCP: Foundation, whose goal is to secure, contain and protect hundreds of anomalies, from the magic coffee maker to the 600 km long sea monster, over on an evil game script. Our task is in the archives and we must archive different files in the form of text and others in which we embody the subject in question through different styles of play.

SCP-090-FR

Technically, the exploration/horror bits that make up most of the game are done right: the art direction is very nice and the sets are disturbing. The music is ridiculously stressful but necessary to set the mood. As so often, setting up the Creole Company would be enough to switch to burlesque. Anyway, it’s seen and verified: we very often collect documents, a jump scare Sometimes when we read them we come across a big monster that we have to flee from until we reach a checkpoint. Then we continue exploring. I also suspect a bug because it happened to me that I died a dozen times in a loop because I was caught up without being able to do anything… To add, the principle is completely stupid because we are meant to read or see a review from the person you are playing. How could she die? It completely breaks the immersion, which is a bit of a shame. On the other hand, these sequences are extremely interventionist, we can only follow the script to the letter. At certain times we have to solve puzzles that are likely to be found in a CM2 level holiday book. The stories told are really good though – compared to other horror games, bearing in mind that they all come from the SCP Foundation’s royalty-free database. At least the game didn’t have to cost too much for the screenwriters.

SCP: secret file
This story has very good acting.

Some questionable decisions

Putting the FPS parts aside, SCP: Secret File introduces us to two other types of gameplay that are frankly uninspired, bordering on flash gaming. The first is a kind of soft rhythmic play that occurs during a sequence that is supposed to take place in a children’s book. If the overall aesthetic of this story is a real hit, it’s undoubtedly the least good one in terms of writing and gameplay suggestion. The second is presented in a 3D isometric view with graphics that are neither really retro nor modern, just really ugly. You just have to move your character painfully to get the rest. It’s a shame, because for once this story is quite amusing. It almost feels like it’s just there to extend the game a little cheaply, which still easily lasts under five hours. We would have preferred to discover other acts by embodying the protagonists in a subjective point of view, rather than making those phases completely irrelevant. The game’s particularly abrupt ending also suggests that a sequel would lend itself well to an episodic format.

Between all these moments of pure Video game, we are also committed to archiving files. We then read information about a particular SCP and simply click on three to four links within it to build the archive and move on to the next. If the fun aspect is completely absent here, at least the stories offered are interesting and sometimes funny. But not sure if we would have gotten a worse result if we happened to open the site’s database. At least on this one we can enjoy the full screen…

You can see a small moving preview in this not too long, spoiler-friendly video:

Half FIG, half grape

For a first game from an independent studio, you can’t say it sucks. The stories told, all by the SCP Foundation, are very good. And the sequences in the FPS view are very well done technically and artistically, but it’s classic horror that’s not original for a dime. The other two game genres, on the other hand, are entirely anecdotal and color the suggestion. While I personally hated the absolutely awful passages, I was still disappointed by the brevity of the overall experience, which won’t exceed five hours. SCP: Secret File is only for fans of the genre and only when it’s on sale.

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