Steam Next Fest has launched with, among 1000-plus indie demos, a playable slice of SCP: Secret Files. It’s the latest in a line of games based on the SCP Foundation wiki, a collection of mainly horror-focused stories and faux-reports around a shadowy cleanup organisation and the weird, nature-defying shit they capture and cover up. Judging so far, it’s also shaping up to be perhaps the most complete attempt at an SCP game yet.
The Next Fest demo, it must be said, is a veritable Now That’s What I Call Horror album of first-person spookfest tropes: jump scares, missing valves that need replacing, and mannequins that move when you’re not looking are just some of the staples it deploys across its 30-odd minute play time. But compared to previous first-person SCP games, most notably Containment Breach, there’s a completely unmatched level of detail (and sophistication of lighting and physics tech) that makes its haunted blacksite setting feel much better-realised.
The demo understands the source material, too. The whole setup – your agent character receiving a debrief-slash-grilling from her hospital bed, leading to increasingly unreliable flashbacks formed of the playable parts – calls back to the interview logs and mission reports that form the meat of so many Foundation wiki works. It’s all as close to a playable SCP article as I’ve ever tried, save for the lack of black censorship bars.
And yet, this demo is only one distinct chunk of SCP: Secret Files, which will ultimately be a collection of tales that span different settings, art styles, and genres. Its Steam page reveals that the first-person horror section will be joined by lighter and brighter forays into interactive fiction, exploration, and top-down adventuring, a much broader reflection of how diverse in tone the wiki’s reports and stories have become. Not to mention the sheer variety of “skips,” the numbered, carefully categorised anomalies that each chapter will seemingly centre around.
Indeed, the source material has never been pure horror. There are mystery, tragedy, comedy, even romance tales within its endless pages, and while a lot of previous SCP games have done a good job of bringing specific monsters to life, Secret Files appears to really ‘get’ what makes the whole project so enduring and compelling. It’s a rule of the SCP Foundation that there’s no canon – what better fit for that than an anthology game?