The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Preview – Halloween is Here

Chris Wray

With us being right in the middle of the spooky season, it made sense that Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco would be giving people a hands-on with the upcoming The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me. It made even more sense to me that I'd want to get hands-on with it, having played all previous TDP - and other Supermassive - titles (links to my earlier reviews: Little Hope, House of Ashes, The Quarry). So, after a bit of early time with the upcoming finale from the first season of The Dark Pictures, let's look at some first impressions.

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If you're like me, you have played previous releases by Supermassive Games, and you're going to be quite familiar with what to expect here. For those who aren't, they are story-driven games. They're almost adventure-game-like in their structure and gameplay, but the choices and consequences tend to be far more branching than other games generally allow. These choices will invariably result in death; it's just a case of how many deaths you'll cause.

Previous titles from Supermassive Games have moved around various settings. Still, outside of the two more prominent titles (Until Dawn, The Quarry), I don't believe any of The Dark Pictures Anthology has been as focused or had a setting or location that feels like such a vital element of the game. The town of Little Hope was interesting enough, but I can't say it felt like an integral part of the game. The same for the ship of Man of Medan. I liked the setting - or the twist - of House of Ashes; it was probably the closest Supermassive got to making the stage feel key to the horror.

While I've only had hands-on with around an hour of The Devil in Me, I feel like the environment is a part of the horror. Inspired by the real-world setting of H.H. Holmes' "Murder Castle", The Devil in Me hotel has many secrets for you to uncover. You will even be able to use some of these secrets to your advantage, a marked expansion of the gameplay of The Dark Pictures Anthology. Of course, some secrets will be used by whatever is killing the cast of characters - a film crew, in this instance - to help with that killing.

The time I've spent with The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me has shown enough of the suspense - and other features - that Supermassive Games have always been able to build into the game. Within the time I spent, Supermassive builds the atmosphere quite well. I can't say I felt on edge, though a jump scare is reasonably effective - even if it's a fake-out. Spoiler, by the way.

I can't say the lack of me being on edge is negative. Supermassive builds up the horror quite well, and it was building here. I believe this will continue, but since I haven't much to say about it, let's talk gameplay. What's worth noting with The Devil in Me is the incorporation of new aspects like simple puzzles, even if one of them is "move this bookcase so you can use it as a bridge".

I'm not sure if this will expand into even more puzzles, ones befitting the survival horror legends like Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark, but the setting certainly has the potential to be up there with Spencer Mansion if handled correctly. There will be secrets to find that will help you survive. Secret passages and secret rooms, other hidden elements, all for you to see in the touches of exploration added to this new The Dark Pictures Anthology entry.

As well as this new exploration element, there's also a small inventory system. I can't say exactly how effective this will be as of yet. Each character has specific items, and there are ones to be found around the hotel, but the ones I've had so far were quite specific and linear. For example, you must find a key to get through a door. The game will force you to find that key. It's essential for progression. I hope some extra items can help you survive but aren't fixed steps on the path, ones found as a reward for curious exploration. Only time will tell.

Acting as the finale of the first season of The Dark Pictures Anthology, it's hard not to see The Devil in Me as a culmination of what Supermassive Games have learned over the past four years. From what was undeniably slow and sluggish, you have some speed. Character relationships and how the interactions change them have a less overt nature, making them feel more organic. Supermassive has even introduced puzzle elements and an (albeit limited) inventory system here, giving The Devil in Me (and The Dark Pictures Anthology, by extension) its first proper steps into traditional Survival Horror territory.

We'll know precisely how good The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is very shortly when the game releases on the 18th of November. Only time will tell what comes after that and how long of a wait we'll have for season 2.

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