Secret Files 3 Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Secret Files 3
Genre: Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer/Publisher: Animation Arts | Koch Media
Age Rating: 12
Price: US $14.99 |UK £13.49 |EU €14,99
Release Date: September 3rd 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to Koch Media!

There’s A Secret In Them There Files!

From everything society has told me, a wedding is supposed to be a happy day. You get to look into the eyes of the person you love, and tell the world how much you love them.

So colour me surprised when our heroine walks down the isle in a trendy white dress, ready to do the whole vows-thing, but then all of a sudden the church explodes and there’s fire and now Nina is alone and has to puzzle-solve a way out of this flaming hellscape!

*GASP* Woah, wait, it was just a dream. Thank goodness, Max is still here and we are about to be married. Oh won’t the honeymoon be fantastic darling?


Wait, excuse me? After the dream wedding is ruined, now you’re arresting my fiance before we can even get to the church?!



And thus begins Nina’s third adventure! 

Did a little personality quiz off the top for my own “customized intro screen”…here it is. I don’t really understand the point however, for subsequent logins just gave me a different screen every time…

Gameplay’s Three Secrets

Secret Files 3 is a point-and-click puzzle game in which we step into the shoes of Nina, a previous Secret Files protagonist. 

Nina’s wedding day plans go horribly awry when her fiance, Max (another character from previous games) is arrested by the Berlin police for terrorism. Now it is up to Nina to follow the trail of clues Max has left; and perhaps Nina will not only save him, but uncover a mystery hundreds of years in the making!

Cutscene graphics.

The story jumps between the present with Nina, and the past in Nina’s strangely prophetic dreams. Dream-Nina is so powerful that she can affect her dreams, and thus change the outcome of past events. In one dream she helps a man escape from prison! To be fair, he was wrongfully arrested and was going to be tortured… but still!

Nina is able to explore these dreams and find out information from the very distant past in order to uncover secrets in the present. 

It’s a very interesting storytelling mechanic, and I feel it was utilized well. It does get a bit campy at times: Nina’s on a plane and has to go through these important files from Max’s computer she found… but she’s just so tired… so sleepy… BAM, now we’re in a dream! It all smacks of old-timey tropes, but that’s part of the game’s strange charm.

Secretly Controlling Files Three Times

As many of you may already know, point-and-click games intended for play using the speed and precision of a mouse do not translate all that well onto console.

If you are playing Secret Files 3 with your Switch docked, you will find that torturous feeling – kind of like trying to help a drunk person properly find the bathroom – as you slowly guide your cursor over the screen with the joycon.

In the bottom left corner of your screen, there is a handy magnifying glass. You can click on this at any time and it will display which places/objects you can interact with on your current screen. This is extremely handy, as there are times when two objects will be so close together that just shimmying your cursor around has a high chance of missing one.

Good life advice: just keep moving forward.

Then you’ll spend thirty whole minutes running around, wondering what the heck you missed, trying to combine every item in your inventory with every other item several times until you’re going crazy and then- WAIT! DEEP BREATHS! No I’m not bitter at all! 

However, the annoying thing about the magnifying glass is that once you click it, the icons showing what you can interact with only stay up on the screen for about two seconds before disappearing. 

Sure game, you don’t want to ruin the immersion by having little icons dotting all over your scenic artwork… but come on! How about you let me choose to toggle it on/off, eh?

My advice: play this game in handheld mode with the touch screen. I found myself enjoying it a lot more when I was able to quickly tap and interact with things. Using the joycon turned this game into a chore rather than a game.

Puzzles Filed Thrice

I am not ashamed to admit it, but I used the puzzle help screen several times.

In the bottom left corner of the screen there is a book and a set of cogs. The cogs will take you to the save screen: always handy.

The book will take you to a screen that can go over the story thus far, and remind you how to play the game, etc. It also has a page for puzzle help.

It will literally tell you what to do, and in what order. For example, it will say: Go to the shelf and take the scissors. Use the scissors on the tape. Inspect the box. (Disclaimer: the previously mentioned puzzle steps do not reflect actual gameplay from Secret Files 3). 

There were times where I was going through my inventory, trying to combine a book with a clothes hanger. If you frequently enjoy, or have enjoyed, point-and-click puzzle games, then I’m certain you know the feeling of: Well, I’m stuck so let’s just try combining everything in my inventory together and hope I make something.

Science-y gobble-dee-gook!

Some puzzle items are obvious: combining a screwdriver with anything that might have screws; other things are so seemingly ridiculous (like combining a cat with a helmet) that this game almost forces you to get silly and try combining everything with everything else.

I found myself stuck several times, so I wasn’t ashamed when I opened up the book and read through the puzzle steps to see what I missed. When it’s something obvious, I felt like a big idiot, but when it’s something like: “have only these three lights turned on” I felt a bit betrayed by the game. 

Like the game was having a laugh at my continuously failing struggles. THAT is when I got annoyed and lost my enjoyment.

Other Secret Files You Should Know About

If you haven’t guessed it already, Secret Files 3 is the third installment in a trilogy. From what I have read, 3 was generally anticipated by the fanbase, as Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis was released back in 2009-2011 on various platforms (including the DS). 

To be fair, Secret Files 3 was released on PC back in 2012, so true-blue dedicated fans have had the ability to play this game for many moons now. 

I, personally, have not played the first two installments of the series. So I am looking at this re-release of 3 on Switch from an entirely fresh perspective. 

I can’t speak to how the game’s story and characters were before, I can only speak to this latest installment and how it affects me now. 

Honestly, I found it a bit underwhelming. I liked Nina’s smart quips sometimes, like the time I clicked to have her collect some grease and she said something along the lines of: Get that with my bare hands, I might as well smear it all over my clothes and hair, no thanks! Wherein I figured out that I could collect said grease in a plastic cup I had picked up earlier.

My robot died three times before it was able to defeat that opposing robot.

There are a few other characters that appear every now and then that Nina interacts with, but they didn’t seem like they had any other point than to be the next “puzzle” that moves the plot forward.

The first NPC that I met… well, let’s just say after a thrilling car chase, our car ended up upside down at the bottom of a clif; once Nina comes to, this NPC is gone, simply vanished.

Rather than being alarmed that this person – a friend and colleague of Max – could be injured, possibly disoriented and walking around in the middle of nowhere at night with a severe concussion, Nina just makes a small comment that he’s gone and we are thrust into the next puzzle to get Nina out of the car.

What the heck? Why didn’t that guy help the unconscious Nina out of the car? He just left her there to hang upside down, what if she’d had a brain hemorrhage, or some other internal injury? That part made me cringe, and I lost some respect for the game’s writing. 

Final Verdict

If you’re a fan of the first two games, and you’re just dying to discover what’s next for Nina and Max, then consider picking up Secret Files 3. If you haven’t played any of the other games, I wouldn’t recommend this one as a jumping off point. There is a lot of character chemistry, history, and story-lines that you will be missing out on, and the game almost expects you to have some knowledge of the previous titles, for example: Nina looks at this strange old carving of a face and gasps because she knows it from somewhere in her past.

The game has some interesting puzzles, some mind-boggling and strange puzzles, and some morally questionable puzzles (framing a guy for illegally selling alcohol Nina?). 

It’s the end of the world as we know it!

If point-and-click adventures are your thing then this might be the next game for you, however I’d highly recommend you play in handheld mode and make use of the Switch’s touch screen capabilities. 

It’s not the cheapest game in the eShop (especially considering it is pretty old, having been out for PC for eight years already), but if it’s on sale for a reasonable amount that’s when I’d consider picking this one up. 

Final Verdict: I like it

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