Title: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
Developer: Supermassive Games
Release Date: October 30, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Horror Adventure
Narrative based adventure games have definitely evolved over the years. It’s something that needed to be done to keep players coming back for more, and developer Supermassive Games seems to understand this as they approach their newest release, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. As the Sophmore release in this collection of horror adventures, Little Hope does an excellent job of pacing its most meaningful choices and scares.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope features time manipulating themes centered around several tragedies that occurred across time. The vessels for this adventure are a group of four college students and their teacher as they find themselves stranded in the town of Little Hope and trapped by a mysterious fog.
Each of the main characters has a distinct personality that they add to the group. They are each capable of leading a conversation or becoming compliant. These multiple layers give the impression that you are truly in control of who they are and their fate.
The story is paced perfectly as you discover the dark events in this town, such as the XVIIth century Andover Witch Trials. It turns out this setting alone is scary enough as you witness people casting blame on witchcraft and others suffering the outcome. It becomes more interesting when you realize that some of these apparitions look familiar.
Similar to other adventure games, you’ll make choices during dialogue. Little Hope puts you in control of these character’s fate, but the developer did a great job of making it difficult to “make the right choice.” Typically in these games, I went against my better judgment and chose responses that I think the characters want to hear, but in this game, that didn’t work, and I really had to weigh some of my choices.
The narrative knows how to get you to cast doubt on characters or question the reality of things. Sure, monsters are floating around, but how are they connected to these Witch Trials and our protagonists? It’s an engaging way to tell this particular story and requires multiple playthroughs to full piece together.
As you take control of different characters, you’ll be able to explore and interact with the environment. The first playthrough will probably be a bit faster than the others because the game has events that trigger the next area even if you aren’t finished exploring. However, this only gives your next playthroughs more context regarding the clues that are left scattered around.
Exploration has been improved in this release as the walking animation and camera work has seen some upgrades. It keeps the cinematic feel, but it doesn’t have that jarring reaction when the camera shifts and you aren’t sure which direction to go. Still, there were times when I would get stuck in a room that an NPC wanted to enter or be blocked off from exploring by a couple of invisible walls.
Furthermore, pacing, in general, has been improved. The developer seems to have eased off the quick-time events in this release to focus more on atmosphere and narrative. I feel like this paid off tremendously because I was completely immersed in the entire mystery. No scene had me feeling bored or frustrated to move it along, and every scene came off like it was important to the plot.
When it comes to quick-time events, well, they are here, but there’s a warning that comes up before they are about to begin to prepare you for what’s to come. You also don’t have to worry too much about them as you did with Man of Medan because they are mainly used for the horror segments, scattered sporadically throughout the game.
I feel like there’s a good balance of these events in the game, but you won’t have to worry about things like every jump off a curb being followed by a button press. Now, returning are some quick thoughts that can lead to sudden death. It may seem fair at the time, but this game doesn’t really focus on fair as much as it focuses on telling a story.
Sadly, I wish the death of a character would affect the group more than a few added lines of dialogue. I would have liked to see them emotionally hurt in the events that follow, especially in the final area. In this last segment, it would have gone a long way to interact with any characters still left alive and hear their thoughts about the previous events. Instead, based on the ending that you get, the conclusion can feel unrewarding.
Where Little Hope shines is in it’s online multiplayer. Tackling this game with a friend was just awesome as we took control of different characters and shaped the narrative together. It’s also an important mode, given that there are certain scenes that you can’t see otherwise. Playing the game alone and then playing again with a friend provided two very different experiences for me to see a new side of these characters and important scenes that act as additional pieces to the puzzle.
Little Hope is a beautiful game, and the team did a great job of creating environments based on a few different eras. The team needed to get this right given how much the narrative leans on the environments and setting to provide scares to the player. With that said, this game is horrifying; through multiple jump-scares and panic-induced moments of terror, try to run away.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is a terrifying adventure game that utilizes the atmosphere and setting to deliver the scares. As the player shapes the adventure, the game reacts in unique ways to the choices made. The upgraded UI and improved multiplayer mode show just how far this developer has come in terms of game-making and storytelling. Some endings can feel a bit anticlimactic or rushed, but that’s just all the more reason to play again.
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