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Find out if the additions to the established formula in The Devil in Me provide The Dark Pictures Anthology with a proper season finale.
Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me was released by Bandai Namco Entertainment on November 18th, 2023 for PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. It’s the fourth and final entry to the first season of the horror game anthology which is only loosely connected by the Curator. Previous entries include Man of Medan (2019), Little Hope (2020) and House of Ashes (2021). On February 16th, 2023 the Curator’s Cut and the Friend’s Pass were released for free. The Curator’s Cut DLC was previously only available for those who pre-ordered the game and provides a fresh perspective on the story. The Friend’s Pass allows you to play the game online with somebody who doesn’t own the game. Sci-Fi horror entry The Dark Pictures Anthology: Directive 8020 was announced to start season 2, possibly later this year. Enough reasons to take a closer look at the game.
The game’s prologue start off during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Newly-weds Jeff and Marie check into the World’s Fair Hotel withouth knowing it’s being run by none other than serial killer Henry Howard Holmes. Fast forward roughly 130 years: In October 2022 indie film crew Lonnit Entertainment make their way to a remote island for the latest entry in their murder-filled documentary series covering H.H. Holmes. Once the murdercastle groundskeeper Du’Met leaves the island in a hurry and the group starts finding more and more treacherous traps, they start to doubt if there could be something out of the ordinary. The crew consists of choleric director Charlie Lonnit, disloyal reporter Kate Wilder, level-headed cameraman Mark Nestor, hard-boiled lighting technician Jamie Tiergan and easily frightened intern Erin Keenan. It’s a similiar premise of a ragtag group trying to survive in a seemingly hopeless situation like in Supermassive’s previous games such as Man of Medan or The Quarry (2022).
The story is being told through the perspective of each playable character. You can’t switch characters freely. Depending on the story you’ll play a new character every minute or take control of a character for a longer period of time. You don’t have to explore this murder castle by yourself (but you can), since the game supports up to seven players locally (or via Steam Remote Play) in Movie Night mode or up to two players online in Shared Story mode. Between dialog and action scenes you’re able to explore the house and its surroundings. You can now jump, run and climb. Your ability to explore is heavily limited by the small areas and paths the game lets you roam about. Once you’re chased by the H.H. Holmes copycat killer you better get your quick-time-events (QTEs) right. If you fail a single QTE you may already lose your current character. That design decision increases the stakes, but it also diminishes the weight of previous decisions. Overall decisions don’t seem to impact the game too much and the lack of character depth as well as interaction results in a feeling of indifference when you lose a character. Enviornmental puzzles add occasionally to variety in gameplay but never end up being challenging.
The fixed camera from previous entries of The Dark Pictures Anthology was replaced by a free camera and Supermassive also added a rudimentary inventory system. You can use the d-pad to access keys, your trusty flashlight or in Mark’s case his camera’s flash. The free camera is a great addition even though it can get in the way in later stages once you explore the castle’s surroundings. The inventory system is a nice touch but heavily underused and in our run the inventory disappeared from the game’s UI and never returned.
The Devil in Me’s cinematic presentation is the game’s biggest strength. For the most part characters look lifelike, though looking into the intern’s dead eyes, watching the character’s hilarious running animations or not being able to get past the computer-controlled characters every so often substract from the game’s dense atmosphere. While the environments are filled with interesting details at the start of the game, this attention to detail gets seemingly lost in later stages. Throughout the game the voice acting and the game’s score by Dead Space and Moss composer Jason Graves is superb.
It takes seven to ten hours to complete The Devil in Me. There are only two different endings, though you can play the Curator’s Cut which gives a fresh take on the murdercastle adventure free-of-charge.
Full Let’s Play (3 players, Movie Night, Steam Remote Play)
Supermassive Games manages to add to the esthablished gameplay formula of The Dark Pictures Anthology in its season one finale by letting the player run, jump and climb, explore slightly larger areas and use a rudimentary inventory as well as a free camera. The implemention of each element leaves to be desired though. While the game’s story of H.H. Holmes copy cat killer is engaging at first, it quickly loses credibility by making the antagonist all-powerful. The lack of depth to characters and depending their fate on the success of QTEs rather than meaningful decisions adds to this dilemma. If you’re in favour of previous entries of the franchise, you may enjoy The Devil in Me as well, especially in the game’s local and online multiplayer modes.
Screenshots were provided by the publisher. The PC version of The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me was provided by the publisher for review purposes.