Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Animation Arts

Publisher:  Deep Silver

Released:  September 2012

PC Requirements:  

  • OS: Windows® XP/Vista™/Windows 7™/Windows 8™
  • Processor: Pentium® 4 2 Ghz Single Core or 100 % compatible processor
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX® 9 compatible video card with min. 128 MB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB of free hard disk space
  • Sound: DirectX® 9 compatible 16 Bit-Soundcard (optional)
  • DVD-ROM-Drive
  • Mouse

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough





by Becky


Secret Files 3 is an ambitious cinematic conspiracy thriller within a point-and-click adventure game. It's a sequel to Secret Files: Tunguska and Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis. The game opens in 48 BC outside the library at Alexandria, as battle rages in the streets. A robed figure hires a thief to destroy certain manuscripts housed in the library.

Fast forward to current day Berlin. It’s several months after Nina Kalenkov and Max Gruber have recovered from their adventures in Puritas Cordis, and Nina is late for their wedding. To her surprise, the church is empty except for Max and the minister. Further oddities surface, including a mysterious hooded figure that walks through walls. The church collapses and is engulfed by flames.

Nina wakes up and masked commandos sprint into the room. Max shouts an obscure reference as he is hustled away, prompting Nina to follow the clues to a covert archaeological dig. A grid-like graphic appears on-screen, revealing the presence of persons unknown who monitor Nina’s every move.

Whew! And the story is just beginning!

Take an Expansive View

Graphics in Secret Files 3 are photorealistic, intricate and strikingly lit. Locations are far-flung and exotic. Some of the environments contain monumental structures and towering spaces, creating a sense of awe. Ambient effects add to the atmosphere – fire, smoke, drifting clouds, and falling snow.

Substantial gameplay takes place in Nina’s dreams. These are constructed in exquisite detail and are so lucid that they seem more like preserved memories than dreams. Each dream ends in apocalyptic fire. Animated cut scenes are well crafted, if brief. The more memorable take place during Nina's surreal dream sequences.

The background music is more prominent than in other adventure games – but blends so well with the environments and the various time periods that its presence enhances rather than distracts. The orchestral soundtrack is varied and layered with different sounds – for instance, exotic Middle Eastern melodies set to a drumbeat, and male vocals backed by an energetic orchestra.

One Woman Wrecking Crew

Although you play brief sequences as other characters, in Secret Files 3 the gamer primarily assumes the role of Nina. Nina lives dangerously, as do those whom she encounters. Our heroine has an uncanny ability to expose both friends and adversaries to disaster. Anyone within hailing distance of Nina should expect to be electrocuted, gassed, arrested, captured, or poisoned. All of which are superior to the alternative -- disappearing without a trace.

The game features plenty of character interaction. Voiceovers are professional. Dialogs can be clicked through. The writing is somewhat “snarkier” and the language is spicier than in the previous games. A few one-liners really zing (I especially liked Nina’s response when asked if she studies martial arts).

Cluelessness and Confusion

I played Tunguska years ago (and, to be honest, didn't make it to the end when I did play it). So I was completely at sea as to why the mysterious robed, hooded figures were planting themselves in Nina’s path. Secret Files 3 should have -- but didn't -- provide a written synopsis of Tunguska and Puritas Cordis, with perhaps a quick rundown as to the different robed sects.

An in-game journal keeping track of characters and locations in the third game would also have helped with guessing as to who is allied with whom, and what they are doing and why. The storyline is fragmented and extremely hard to follow. The historical sequences and dreams are disjointed pieces of a narrative puzzle that left me baffled. For instance, until I replayed part of the game looking precisely for the explanation, I had no idea why a certain life-and-death, desperate measure had to be taken -- and even then found the "explanation" unsatisfying. A further disappointment: Max disappears so early in the game that his relationship with Nina is unexplored.

Trying A with B (and C and D…)

Secret Files 3 is played from the third person perspective and uses a point-and-click interface. Character movement during gameplay is smooth.

The environments are compact in terms of the number of screens that can be accessed at any one time. This eliminates much of the “wandering back and forth” tedium frequently found in adventure games. Each environment contains many hotspots which can be identified by pressing the space bar. A handful of challenges can be solved flexibly -- that is, more than one inventory item or more than one type of device can be used to get the desired result.

The game contains a rudimentary hint/task system delineating a goal for each particular area. It was singularly unhelpful – either too vague or providing information that I’d already figured out on my own.

Most puzzles involve combining and/or using inventory items. The implausibility of some combinations recalls the wacky logic found in the puzzles in Tunguska. Nina has a special dispensation – she can exponentially increase the sharpness of bread knives, or the weight-bearing capacity of wire objects.

During the game’s dream sequences, such impracticality isn’t a problem – why not use dream logic in a dream? But the combinations are just as bizarre in the “real life” portions of the game, forcing the gamer to employ the “try every inventory item on every other item and hotspot” strategy. This procedure is simplified by the cursor, which indicates whether combinations work as you place it over each hotspot – so you don’t need to click to see if the combination is effective. Still, with so many hotspots, the inventory puzzles can become tiresome.

The self-contained puzzles (mostly based on pattern analysis and symbol recognition) are more entertaining. A particularly creative sequence requires Nina and a companion to move in tandem on a tile-like floor, using images of animals as a guide. Unfortunately, the animal images are small and some are faint enough to make it difficult to discern the necessary characteristics. However, trial and error and persistence will eventually yield the solution.

Another unusual challenge spotlights a war-bot that Nina must accessorize using various weapons. This becomes an amusing form of turn-based combat. Note to self: in the future, maintain a vast weapons wardrobe and only go up against opponents whose holdings are pitifully limited.

Oddly, a couple of situations (getting an object through a laser maze, for instance) cried out for a puzzle, but led only to a screen fade. Apparently, either a puzzle or a cutscene was planned but not implemented.


Secret Files 3 contains an unusual (for an adventure game) bonus feature that endows the player with various achievements. I enjoyed learning that I’m a “Maverick” and that I walk around a lot while looking at everything ten times (my compulsive nature has officially been rewarded).

After the game ends, a series of “where are they now?” scenarios update each character's status. These change slightly, depending upon two (fully identified) choices that you make late in the game. You have to replay parts of the game to see the different character outcomes. You can also re-view cut scenes that you’ve already triggered.

Apocalypse Now-ish?

Secret Files 3 has many attractive elements – spectacular locations, atmosphere-enhancing music, and some unusual puzzles. But the experience is piecemeal. Historical chapters, dream sequences, and current day conspiratorial imbroglios are haphazardly woven together. Characters and locations surface for short periods and then disappear. The game ends with yet another in a chain of physical impossibilities and raises the question -- can anyone actually cheat the apocalypse?

Quick List for Secret Files 3

A fast-paced conspiracy thriller with a spunky heroine who lives by Murphy's Law. Multiple mysteries, locations, time periods, and characters are tossed into the plot mix – superhuman alertness is required to understand who’s who and what’s what.

Photorealistic graphics with impressive, elaborate structures. Intriguing, animated cutscenes. Good voiceovers. Plenty of character interaction. You can click through the dialogs.

Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. The spacebar shows all hotspots. Some of the setpiece puzzles have two difficulty levels.

Inventory puzzles, plus challenges that involve recognizing patterns, analyzing information, assembling devices, and tricking and disabling other characters. The two most difficult puzzles use images that are tiny or ambiguous. Overall puzzle difficulty is medium. One slider, no mazes, no sound or color based puzzles, one turn-based combat sequence (it does not require quick reflexes). You can’t die.

No problems with installation; no glitches. Unlimited save slots. The game contains a lot of spicy language and some violent themes; it is not appropriate for young children. About eight hours of gameplay.

Secret Files 3 is aimed at fans of the previous Secret Files games and those who can handle collateral damage while in the company of a plucky redhead.

Final Grade: B

Secret Files 3 can be purchased via download from The Adventure Shop and from Steam.

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October 2012

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