Secret Files 3
Developer: Annimation Arts
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: September, 2012
I have no idea why this eagerly awaited game took so long to play after pestering Dave at Interact for my disk copy. It arrived back in September (as I recall ) and quickly installed on my system. I watched the intro believing the game to look very good. I played for a short time until Nina swung that statue back and forth to escape the church. Then it sat and sat until March, almost April. Why? Who knows? It must have been me, because there is nothing wrong with the game other than its length and minor nit picks. Mechanics
After the initial cut scene you are facing the main menu. There is a static photo of Nina working on her bike. The options offered are highlighted by sweeping your mouse. Choices are, New Game; Load Game ; Options ; Credits; Exit; Cinema, where you can view cut scenes you watched during game play and Bonus which offers a look at your game accomplishments. The later two I believe appear after you complete the game. I don’t recall seeing them when first starting. Though they may have been there. There is also a hot spot indicator showing where the hidden icons are. That too is hidden. Your space bar does not reveal it as it does during game play.
Load and Save Game during game play is activated by the escape key. The page has frames that show the screen capture of the saved game, load, save, delete, choices are offered. Upon quitting the game you are offered an option to auto save at that point of the game. A blank new game slot is also available. The usually difficult question of “Where are my saves” is answered at this location.
( My Documents\Secret Files3\Save games )
Sometimes clicking on a hot spot did nothing except to find your character walk toward it. On several occasions it took a second or third response to activate. To activate closeup view for some of the puzzles required a right click. Because of the non response received too frequently you could not trust the right click to bring up the puzzle view. It could lead one to believe there was no further action there when in fact there is. Don’t take no for an answer try clicking again. Pressing the space bar or clicking on a magnifying glass at bottom right shows all the active spots in the game screen. There are a lot of them. Your inventory is accessed by sweeping the cursor the bottom of the game screen. A left mouse click takes the item while a right mouse click describes the item. You should look at each item when you collect it as often you will find other things inside it. You combine items in the usual manner inside inventory by placing one onto another to make something new. You do that often. Hot spots are found either by taping the space bar or using a magnifying lens icon at bottom right of the game screen. A tasks icon describes what needs to be done though I did not use it having completely overlooked it.
The Bonus feature is opened after the end of the game. More about that later. Once completed you receive a certificate reporting your specific game play stats. You can find that on your hard drive at this location. ( My Documents\Secret Files3\Certificate ) What it told me was, ( Minutes played 280; pressed left mouse button 1047 times; right mouse button 148 times; used magnifying glass 12069 times; meters walked in game 5065 and have 12 saves. You can see why I said I felt the game too short. 280 minutes is barely above 4 and a half hours. Believe me I am not usually that quick to solve puzzles. There is a Beginners Walk through for first part of game on (disk) it installs to( C:\Program Filesx86\Deep Silver\Secret Files3\Manual. ) I have no idea if it is included in download versions of the game. I did not look at this other than to determine it did not go very far into the game. Not a complete walk through if you want one look to Mag’s on this site. Game play
Point and click first person controls all the way through. If Nina is standing in front of your hot spot you cannot click through her. The graphics and voice acting were very good. It seems they have either a new actress playing Nina or they changed the approach to provide a more adult voice based on prior complaints. I admit the earlier voice did not bother me in the least. There are many locations to visit and you will find there is very little backtracking and I’m sure this will make a lot of you happy. Yes, there are exceptions. One activity in particular requires you to walk through several screens over and over again. It is clever but gets old fast especially by the fifth time through. kudus to developers for trying. There is another puzzle which was off putting. A combat scene where two remote controlled robots do battle. It was not difficult and you get an auto reset.
You select a weapon to arm robot to defeat the other one. There are two scores on the upper corners of your screen showing 100 points for each combatant. The object is to reduce the other guy to zero before you get to zero. I did not do well the first time. I selected another weapon and noticed the bad guy started at 20 points and Nina at 100.
Did the game take pity on my terrible first effort? I don’t know I don’t care. I don’t mind saying I’d have been happier if they skipped this entirely.
I found the game did not do a credible job providing a back story to advise who Nina is and how this relates to the first two games. Obviously those of you who played games one and two do not need it. But linking it to where they left off in game two would have been nice. We have no idea what happened to Nina and Max after game 2 up to this point. New players who did not experience one and two are not likely to be intrigued enough to try them as this game does not entice you to do so. I found considerable confusion within the plot as several times I had no idea why I was doing certain things. At more than one point I found bringing up Mag’s walk through was essential. Not to determine what to do but to search for her high quality screen shots of the puzzles. I have a high quality 21 inch wide screen monitor. Even with that the in game objects you were required to match up had too little detail to recognize. Mag’s screen shots were essential to allow one to “see” what they were looking at. I found identifying the moving parts in the compass puzzle near the end very problematic. Yes there were labels given showing on the screen but no detail in the tiny graphical renditions to help identify them.
The game takes another creative leap providing several scenes where Nina interacts in her dreams. I found this unique and an interesting way to experience puzzles that required a suspension of disbelief. Weird solutions are the norm for dreams. Not complaining here as they were fun and sometimes challenging. You can expect the sharp wit to surface in comments made by our young woman. The dialogue tree is short as are the conversations. You can skip through them with a double click and yes there is a running printed caption at bottom screen if you prefer to read it. You do get to play multiple characters, however, briefly. For fans of Max you will be disappointed as he is almost never seen and rarely played. There is a clever puzzle where two players must be moved as in a chess board to solve it. You will be mixing and matching inventory items often but are spared mazes and sliders. The ever growing popular laser beam puzzle rears its ugly head but it is hardly a danger or challenge and not timed in any way.
The game evaluates you presenting that certificate mentioned above. In addition once completed you find the bonus icon on the menu screen. Here you find your awards. For my part it read like this.
Maverick ( more than one way to solve problems in church )
Daredevil ( walked into the light without turning around )
Wanderlust ( I walked a lot ) not bad for 280 minutes
Watcher (really looked at everything )
Good Samaritan ( helped others )
The list amounted to less than half of possible awards. Good Samaritan is based upon the ending of the game that I reached. There are four possible endings determined by a choice you are offered shortly before the final scene. If you make a saved game before selecting your choice you can return to that spot later. Making a different choice allows experiencing different endings. I confess I have not done that as yet. I am happy enough with the ending I witnessed. From that bonus icon you can also view what happened to the characters in the game an epilogue so to speak. Their fates change with each of the various endings. This is where you can view the multiple cut scenes you saw during game play.
Secret Files 3 ran without issues on win 7. I say without issues while having pointed out the difficulty of activating hot spots. I was using a new mouse and doubt it was a mouse issue. It could be specific to the disk version having no effect on the download versions. I cannot speak to that aspect. There is the poorly defined graphic detail in some puzzles making it difficult for you to identify pieces. These are not major issues but ones you should be aware of. If you received no response when clicking a hot spot expecting a close up view and not getting one you might be led to believe there is nothing there. There are hundreds of hot spots that generate only a comment. It is a good way to to get stuck and not be able to move on in the game. You will find no shortage of things to look at in this game.
SF-3 is a good game well worth playing, however, I must admit a level of disappointment having had greater expectations based on the first two games. Many of you will enjoy this game but I cannot get all that excited about it. Secret Files 3 is not going to make my top shelf while at the same time I cannot dislike it. See what expectations will do for you?