Title: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
Developer: SuperMassive Games
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Survival Horror
Available On: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: October 30
Version Tested: PS4
Just in time for Halloween, a contender for the best survival horror of the year arrived. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is the second installment and a follow up to last year’s Man of Medan.
Both of those games are unofficial follow-ups to Until Dawn. That survival horror title put Super Massive on the map in this genre and, perhaps a little sadly, remains the best of the trio. The first thought that occurred to me when I finished my playthrough of Little Hope was that while there were definite improvements, especially graphical fidelity, the devs are starting to feel a bit like the same issues that plaguged Telltale Games. Once they found a working fomula, they didn’t do enough to tweak it.
That doesn’t mean this installment is a bad game. There’s plenty to like. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for when I sat down to play.
No Hope In Little Hope
The story of Little Hope is actually three-fold. There’s an opening couple of scenes that both set the tone and start the mystery behind the town. As the story progresses the mystery gets deeper. At the heart is the big question. What is up with the town of Little Hope and why are the weird things that are going on, happening the way they are?
As you progress through the story, you’ll get to know its main characters. One of the things Super Massive did quite well was combining truly photorealistic graphics with mostly good acting, to come up with an immersive story.
While the tale starts slow, it picks up in the middle, just as a good horror movie should. Will Polter and company, as well as near live-action quality graphics allow you to feel truly invested in saving each and every one of the five survivors of a bus crash just outside of towm.
A college professor and four of his students are the ones who will unravel the mystery of Little Hope and in the process run into more than a little trouble. When the monsters finally start attacking, and button mashing is demanded, I felt myself actually breathing out grunts of frustration and muttering “oh no” when I missed a cue.
Props should also go to the dev team for sort of lulling the player into a false sense of security. Several of the first button mashing events are quite easy starting out. The game is clearly getting you acclimated to the controls. When it ramps up the difficulty, it doesn’t do it so much that you feel like you have no chance at succeeding, but it also does so without warning.
Of course it’s possible the difficulty is ramped up towards the end because the developers couldn’t figure out exactly how to pull off a the finale without trying its hardest to kill everyone off. I’ll come back to that. I promise.
That Dialogue Tho
While the story sets up well and held my attention well, (I finished it in one playthrough) sometimes the dialogue is not just clunky but eyebrow raisingly bad. For most of the first few chapters of the saga, Angela, a older student who is supposed to be the matriarch of the group, sticks to one or two word comments that always, always feel like the writer didn’t know what to do with her.
Eventually, that character gets filled out a bit more, as does the rest of the cast, but the rather clunky dialogue never really goes away. That’s to be expected to some degree, this is a video game trying to be a bit tropey as it’s supposed to be an interactive horror game.
What’s even worse is that there are several points in the story where the plot leaps forward, with little explanation as to how the characters got from Point A to Point B. At one point, the group was seperated and then in the next scene, they were back together, with no explanation as to how, or any expressed surprised from the bunch that they were all back together.
It also struck me as a bit odd just how quickly every single member of the group accepts the weirdness of the situation they’re in. When one character discovers the oddity of the fog they’re in, it takes no effort at all to convince the others. This despite the extreme oddity of the situation.
The dialogue isn’t the worst part of Little Hope. Not by a long shot, but at times it can shake you out of the immersion.
Ending of Little Hope Left Me Empty
Without giving away any spoilers, the biggest drawback of this installment of the Dark Pictures Anthology was an finale that, sucked the wind out of things with its execution. There’s very little lead up. Some of that likely has to do with the “choose your own adventure” nature of the game. It’s possible different choices would have allowed me to arrive at the end a bit smoother. But it’s still not carried out well.
The clunkiness of the final beats also kills off any real interest in playing through the story again. That’s a shame, as a better closing argument would have had me wanting to pick it up and check it out again almost immediately.
Verdict: Little Hope is a solid survival horror. It actually had me angry when I failed one of the characters. Their deaths are plenty gruesome as well. The multiplayer, pulled off in much the same way as Man of Medan is great too. Whether you want to talk through what you’re seeing or not. Super Massive does a great job of hiding things up their sleeve. More than any of the other games, I felt like my choices mattered. Even the smaller ones. If only they could have pulled off the conclusion better.