Our following hands-on preview of the title reflects our thoughts on an early build supplied by Bandai Namco for PC. Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me will release on PlayStation, XBOX and PC platforms, November 18, 2022.
Future uncertain, but certainly slight...
It’s not often that I find myself confounded or pondering a preview that more-or-less executes a mirrored demonstration as previous chapters in it’s own Anthology, but The Devil in Me bodes a serious question in terms of how far into a franchise can one development team travel before it begins to peak? The Dark Pictures Anthology has comprised of the best in cinematic storytelling in episodic form that separates its narrative, but keeps its presentation and gameplay loop uniform for returning players. The great thing about each release is its individual story, giving players a choice to either play or skip chapters. The one thing that keeps this series a main attraction to a multitude of markets is its exceptional visuals that outrank even the cream of the crop in video game development.
Thanks to Bandai Namco, DashGamer was given the privilege to go hands-on with an early build of The Devil in Me, prior to its release on November 18, 2022. Sporting a peculiar premise behind it, the supposed final chapter within the Anthology takes a cast of hopefuls off-shore to an undisclosed location where they’re literally met with more than they bargained for. Location scouting for his next big documentary, Charlie Lonnit of Lonnit Entertainment is suddenly contacted by an unknown investor, Granthem Du’ Met, whose motives and interests in the project remain a mystery. Du’ Met informs Charlie that he’s willing to welcome the crew to shoot at his inherited hotel that’s been modelled after America’s very first serial killer, Henry Howard (H.H.) Holmes. The team are then hauled to an off-shore land that houses the corroding docile that bodes a terrifying aura from first glance.
Charlie’s team consists of young adults that are looking to make a name for themselves within the entertainment industry, but seem to be somewhat perturbed by their clearly misguided and delusional leader. Unpaid and overworked, Charlie’s intern Erin cops most of the director’s outbursts after Charlie’s heard angrily expressing his disbelief that Erin may have misplaced his cigarettes. The pair investigate the hotel, heading downstairs to see if the in-lodge bar contained any packs. From here we get our first taste of in-game mechanics that are primarily what we’ve seen in past iterations of the Dark Pictures, yet there’s definitely more of sleuthing than the ordinary entry. The nature of the conspicuous narrative changes when Lonnit’s crew are abandoned by Du’ Met, leaving them stranded, changing the objective from location scouting to an investigative story, then takes an unmitigated nosedive into survival-horror.
Credit: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Admittedly, the early hands-on gave very little depth in our character’s relationships, but gives a unequivocal impression on their feelings toward their leader. Mark Nestor, is a snoopy photographer that will do anything to get the perfect shot, Kate Wilder is perceived by Charlie to be a desperate actress that is hungry for attention while in reality she can’t stand Lonnit, and Jamie Tiergan seems to be the ‘lone wolf’ of the group, appearing to be a key grip for Lonnit Entertainment. Depending on how you forge bonds within the game, Mark shares minor traits with Charlie, both passionate about the project while the rest are seemingly level headed and care about the wellbeing of one another. Just as the previous chapters displayed, you may choose from an irrational or empathetic side of each character, ultimately paving the way to the story’s climax.
With each decision made, comes the consequence of keep a strong relationship with one cohort and potentially destroying another – whether that be separate or concurrent to each decision made. Morality weighs in heavily, whether or not you will pick or choose each character’s fate, which of course is all pre-determined through a myriad of choices, and while way the pendulum will swing in their selfish behaviour. While Charlie could care less about the wellbeing of anyone in the hotel, Kate seats herself at the opposite end of the spectrum. However, you may curve this trait in each of them to be the complete opposite respectively by the end of the campaign. Clues are scattered and littered throughout the haunted dwelling, whether they be in notes, letters (which in this short preview there were so, so many letters), markings, stains, decorated dummies – more imposing than anything in the hotel – or even charts hanging on the interior walls which unlock premonitions, that would give the player a peek into a character’s untimely demise.
Collectables are carried through a very small inventory that can be equipped and utilised by pressing the D-Pad of your respective controller – it should be noted that this early build did not have the capability of using a keyboard and mouse for its in-game experience. Interest toward the story given escalated from a tedious and somewhat cumbersome beginning, yet became quite entertaining at the end. Given this was only a short taste of what’s to come for The Devil in Me, it sold me on its unconventional premise that’s arguably convoluted from the get-go. While there was nothing of major impact by comparison to the House of Ashes preview that we were granted last year, The Devil in Me presents a completely different tone to its entry. While we’ve seen supernatural elements take us by complete shock, this may be the one entry that relies on purposed masochism and mutilation.
I admit, the seventy minutes given here had me leap out of my chair, shrieking in fear a few times. There are quite the number of jump scares laden across each mission that will undoubtedly have any player timid while perusing through the haunted hotel. While the preview may have only served crumbs, I’m expecting The Devil in Me to serve a five course meal in its coerced exploit that can only trigger fear and disaster while tribulation of virtue will tentatively either mask or shape this horror. Supermassive’s reputation in writing and developing such tantalising and spine tingling tales have primed them for their finale here, and it’s without question that The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me truly has what it takes to be one of 2022’s closing statements in narrative driven, interactive cinema.
Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me releases for Windows PC, XBOX, and PlayStation on November 18, 2022.
The Devil in Me is the fourth installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology series and the finale of its first season. It is an interactive horror game under development by Supermassive Games and will be published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for a multi-platform release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on November 18, 2022.