The Dark Pictures Anthology is a love letter to fans of the genre of interactive drama. Where prior to the series becoming an annual release starting in 2019, fans would seldom get entries from Supermassive Games or Quantic Dreams, but with the Dark Pictures Anthology, we get a well-crafted narrative story told where players can always count on having a thrill with a friend or two. In our Devil In Me review, we take a look at what the studio has been up to.
The Devil In Me is the 4th title in the series and marks the end of Season 1 of the series. It takes us to another real-world event, similar to the Ourang Medan in the pilot game, Man of Medan. The events of this title are based on the real-life murders that took place in the World’s Fair Hotel, owned by Henry Howard Holmes (H. H. Holmes), who got to be known as the world’s first serial killer due to these heinous acts.
Let’s check in to the hotel and see if it’s worth the stay, or is it an early checkout?
Story and Writing
As mentioned before, the game takes place in a recreation of the famous murder hotel where H. H. Holmes committed his horrific murders. When Lonnit Entertainment and its desperate crew are invited to record a documentary at the legendary site by Grantham Du’met, a major fan of Mr. Holme’s work and recreated the murder hotel, the crew are hard pressed to say no as the business is struggling and this could be the show that saves their business.
However, upon getting to the hotel, the crew quickly discovers that this is a one-way trip. It is up to you, the player, to determine the life and death of all crew members by solving devilishly difficult puzzles and life-threatening situations and making the right choices to ensure the survival of the people you control.
However, there is more to the mystery to unravel. There game constantly rewards you for exploration and encourages it. As you do multiple playthroughs and explore new places to discover hidden collectibles to put together the pieces, you might learn something new each time you play the game, with different choices.
As with the genre, keep your expectations low. The writing here is definitely much better, the characters have a lot of depth and development to them as the game progresses, but if you go into the story fresh off God of War Ragnarok and expect something of the same quality, you will be disappointed. This genre is akin to horror movies from the 1980s and 90s, so keep your bar to that level, and you will have a great time.
With the interactive drama genre, there is a “timer” of sorts. It’s visible and invisible for most parts, but the beautiful thing about The Devil In Me is that there is much more freedom and autonomy. Those of you who have played similar games know that accidentally walking into a room or a hallway can put you to the point of no return, which means you missed a great opportunity to explore something.
This isn’t the case here, or at least, it’s not as punishing.
This is by far the most liberating game I have played to date in the genre. There are seldom moments in the early game that can disrupt your interaction with the world, but as the game picks up, naturally, you will not have all the time to smell the roses due to the game’s setting. However, another new feature is how there is a new quirk to the game with each character and a unique skill that comes in handy for the game.
Characters and Their Abilities
Charlie Lonnit, the director and owner of Lonnit Entertainment, can pick locks with business cards. Gloria, the woman responsible for setting up the equipment, is handy with electricity-related jobs, and every other character has a trait that has never been in a game like this before, i.e., a specific trait or ability that made them an important part of the world in the game, rather than a role as a character.
In addition, the game now has an inventory system that lets you pick up stuff in the environment to use in the world to delve deeper into the lore, unlock collectibles, and more.
There is also a new addition of a balance mechanic, which you do by moving the right analog left and right to keep the body positioning. This is something many fans will remember but haven’t seen in a video game in a long time, and to see a return here, especially for the more tense moments, is refreshing.
Lastly, the game has a bigger emphasis on puzzle solving. The hotel is full of puzzles, begging you to solve them. Your survival of these puzzles is a mix of relying on what you collected along the way and using your wit in time to solve it.
The hotel is more akin to SAW 2 in terms of puzzles, as you will enter a room or an area only to have a door lock behind you, and you have to solve the puzzle or die.
This is a breath of fresh air in the genre and one I wholeheartedly think should be in more entries in the series.
Having played this on the PS5, I chose performance mode, and it was good to see the game thriving in 60FPS. All of this, paired with beautiful visuals, great setpieces, and graphics, constantly remind me of why I love this genre. It is one of those games that never gets boring to look at. Even as you play through it multiple times to chase after the coveted 1000G or the platinum trophy like I am.
In terms of sound design, the hotel has a pronounced and bleak atmosphere. The sound is purposefully menacing and will always keep you on your toes. Even when there isn’t a jumpscare, the audio does a fantastic job of punctuating the silence with just enough audio cues to keep you light on your feet and ready for any QTEs that pop.
I did encounter some minor graphical glitches while playing in the 60 FPS mode, like characters clipping through the environment. It seems that the 30 FPS mode is the only solution for that at the moment. It didn’t bother me though, considering the style of the game.
All in all, this is still a game that stands the test of time, and even when you look at it against a game like 2019’s Man of Medan, you will see the similarities in visuals and the improvements Supermassive continues to make every year.
In the end, The Devil In Me is a thrilling new addition to the series. It brings a lot of brand new innovative ideas to the genre, which personally have been on my wishlist for a long time. The menacing hotel is a great setting, the characters are dynamic and purposeful, and there is something to be said about how the game is a fitting way to send off chapter 1 in The Dark Pictures Anthology.
If you are a fan of the genre or the series, this is a must-play for you. No exceptions. Bring a friend along for the ride and enjoy the game’s various multiplayer modes.
Supermassive has hit a home run once more, and despite the stay at the hotel being less than desirable, I still rate the game a solid entry to the series with high hopes for it to get better with future entries!
What did you think of our Devil In Me Review? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This review is based on the PS5 version of A Little to the Left. The key was provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment.