For the uninitiated, the SCP Foundation is a fictional secret organization whose purpose it is to capture, analyse, and most importantly, contain so-called anomalies. If any of this sounds like the video game Control to you, then you wouldn’t be wrong. Control was largely inspired by the SCP Foundation. What makes the SCP Foundation special though, is that it’s a community project, with a database of different anomalies that regularly gets updated with new entries by members of the community. This makes for a very varied collection of different stories, mostly in the realm of horror, science fiction, and urban fantasy. There have been a number of adaptations and fan-made works based on stories from the SCP database, and publisher Pixmain is bringing the newest entry to that list with the horror game SCP: Secret Files from developer Game Zoo Studio.
In SCP: Secret Files you are a new employee just starting his work at the foundation. Usually, the first thing that will happen on any given day is that you have a little chat with your co-workers. What this really means is that you get to look at a little chat window and get to read what everyone has to say today before you all start working. It’s your job to sort files about different anomalies in the archive. All of this is very simple drag and drop stuff that you could be done with in mere seconds. Although you might want to spend the extra time and read some of the documents since they’re all intriguing in their own ways. Then there are certain documents that stand out, which you won’t just have to read but you get to play through the events that are detailed in them, and this is where I would say the real game starts.
These are all smaller, self-contained that are completely detached from the main character beyond the fact that he’s apparently reading about them. This anthology structure benefits the individual stories because it means basically anything can happen in them and they don’t have to worry about possible consequences, or the impact those stories might have on other events. As with most anthologies, the quality of the different stories in SCP: Secret Files varies, but the good ones are really great and the bad ones are still decent. What’s most impressive is the sheer amount of creativity on display here. Not only are the stories themselves all very different and interesting in their own ways, they’re also all executed differently, with different gameplay elements, art styles etc. The only thing they really have in common is that they’re horror sci-fi stories that can get rather weird with an almost hallucinatory quality to some of them. Think of something like Control, or The Evil Within even.
This complete detachment from the main character also brings a problem with it though. It doesn’t feel like anything is actually happening. SCP: Secret Files tries to have this little underlying story with the main character, but there’s barely any time relegated to it, and it simply isn’t interesting. It’s the thing you get through to get back to the exciting part. This also means that the end of SCP: Secret Files comes completely out of nowhere. Since there is no real feeling of progression, the game just eventually hits you with an “ok this is it bye” and then the credits roll.
Another negative in SCP: Secret Files that I sadly have to mention (and I say sadly, because I really appreciate some of the ideas here) is the sound. First of all, the voice acting isn’t great. It’s not awful, but with some of the characters, you can really feel the acting. What I mean by that is, it always feels like you are listening to an actor rather than a character. The second fault I have to mention is the levels of the different sound effects are all over the place. Some sounds are louder than others, and I don’t think that was the intention.
At the end of the day, SCP: Secret Files shines through its many creative ideas, and since it constantly changes its identity as you play through it, it never stops being exciting. There are a couple of flaws that hold the game back from being something greater, but nothing so bad that it would ruin the experience.
Nairon played SCP: Secret Files on PC with his own copy.