So one thing I’ve most certainly come to appreciate with The Dark Pictures Anthology, is its unique way in keeping things fresh yet staying with a familiar formula so fans that are acclimated with the series already can seamlessly jump in and enjoy the thrills. The learning curve is little, as its purely narrative driven but it does take some time to decipher and adjust some ambiguous and selected mechanics to fit a respective chapter. But the other thing I’ve come to realise, is each entry has its own delivery; a vibe that fits the aura of what the writers were looking to have fit each individual chapter, and this also comes not only in form of its cast and characters, but in their performances and reactions throughout each unsettling campaign.
To close out the anthology comes the climax act that brings the thrills, tingles and scares and then some. The Devil in Me follows an ambitious party of hopeful independent film makers, looking to shoot their next big documentary movie from an undisclosed island for which they know very little about. It’s an odd premise, but does fit the mould of clueless teens following the leader toward an imaginary pot of gold that only leads them to perilous pitfalls. This review will cover mostly the single player experience, which one would assume to translate into the online multiplayer as it has prior anthology entries. The campaign itself only lasts six hours – depending on the amount of time you spend hunting down collectables – but will keep you engaged for numerous playthroughs.
Holmes is where the Heart is...
An undeniable selling point to The Dark Pictures Anthology has been its replay value, and The Devil in Me is no exception. The many versions of its outcome all depends on how you steer your crew through the haunted halls of this recreated mansion, inherited by Granthem Du’Met, who calls Owner and Director of Lonnit Entertainment, Charlie Lonnit cluing the brash film maker in on his fortune without explaining much. A fools errand to run, Lonnit doesn’t think twice before sussing the situation and rallies his team to follow through with Du’Met’s pitch in filming at his hotel that has been modelled after the slaughter house nicknamed the “Murder Castle”, once inhabited by America’s first serial killer Henry Howard (H.H.) Holmes. Lonnit’s reasoning is to drum up hype for his studio’s dissipating reputation in the public relation sector.
Credit: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
The crew are a strange band of misfits that have a passion for film making, but are quite critical of Lonnit’s decision making, and this only gets worse after arriving to the hotel, sighting a deteriorating exterior on the creepy abode. While praising Du’Met for his suspicious invite, the crew begin to experience threatening activies within hours of their stay. From being trapped in a dark room with looming figures and what looks to be a Garrote wrapped around their palm ala Hitman, or the subtle invites of an axe wielding gardener, these are just pre-emptive signals of what was seemingly a trap set by a complete psychopath looking to satiate his bloodlust. It becomes apparent that Granthem Du’Met had co-ordinated this from the beginning to essentially feed this group of people to the ‘wolves’ per se’.
Now, I want to express that this was the most confronting chapter within the saga that I played through. Not for anything, but some of the events and stories told through the malicious acts were disturbing to say the least. I mean of course, it’s going to curl your toes and turn your stomach upside down to see someone else’s turned inside out, right? But it’s not the act of how it happens that makes you feel that escalating sense of dread overwhelm you, it’s the lead-in, the suspenseful interaction between characters and their growing distrust for one another. Like its prior entries, you can shape how players will either begin to have faith or completely lack any empathy toward certain people. There are plenty of selfish moments that while are not out of the ordinary, are arguably petty, and come with slightly more shock factor at an untimely demise.
From the blood curdling sensations met upon orientation at H.H. Holmes odd tribute hotel, to the psychotic nature that begins to break down between its cast of characters and the events that unfold in front of them, it's honestly the most emotionally jarring and horrific chapters I've experienced in gaming.
The great thing about The Devil in Me that sets it apart from House of Ashes or Man of Medan, are the investigative parts that aren’t quiet or cumbersome. They don’t just throw you into a portion of the campaign that has nothing but a linear path to follow without any added shock value. The Devil in Me showcases more thrill to the excitement with puzzles that a lot more interactive, dialogue that seems a ton more inquisitive and receptive of your respective character’s surrounding. Eerie voices that echo down dark hallways deliver valuable hints and clues, but also divulge disturbing stories of death and maniacal psyche. Ghosts from the past crying out for help, that live in the walls of this hotel, frightening doesn’t begin to describe the feeling that surges through you when the power suddenly cuts and you’re left to your own devices, sometimes alone.
Crash Death Dummy...
✔️ A confronting conclusion to a terrific survival-horror anthology.
✔️ Possesses more gameplay features than previous chapters which aids some cumbersome moments.
✔️ An intriguing story that’s based on real life events which makes this an incredibly terrifying experience.
❌ Littered with bugs, but expect patches soon.
Playing through the campaign with a pair of headphones in a dark room was a mistake. There, I said it. So yes, I turned all the lights back on, and continued through the second half of the story with hopes of not falling out of my seat a second time. There are a litany of jump scares, an assortment of creepy dummies that stare at you with a menacing look, and I don’t know why but there are so many littered letters all over this place. There are papers, everywhere – seriously get a filing cabinet. You can take a gander at some of these loose letters to get a clue as to why the building itself is abandoned and leaking power with most of its bills unpaid for.
Strutting down a hallway or hidden room usually entails a framed picture that discloses premonitions of future demise between your characters and how they come to their untimely end. Acts of kindness or hatred will determine rationale. “Head” will see your character act with common sense, or “Heart” see’s you act out of emotion and may lead to dire consequences. The familiar bearings system returns and records your character’s social connections between one another, aiding you in the long run with hopes of leading your entire clan to survival. Quicktime events and dialogue choices are an imperative part of Dark Pictures, and while some of the writing could have been a little polished in its latest chapter, it’s maintains a steady delivery and solid execution by Supermassive.
Welcome mechanics that expand our character’s arsenal include sprinting, climbing, crawling and vaulting over obstructions. Pushing a cabinet between a gap, then climbing a ladder to leap across, or balancing on an unstable beam are just a few examples of what’s new here. Puzzles are again quite interesting to discover and work out, but aren’t as strenuous to solve as its predecessors. You can collect certain items within the vicinity, keep them withheld in your inventory then utlise them later on. The items themselves can actually be lost over time, so be sure you’re checking on them regularly. You may also trade with other characters if need be. I found this to be only helpful when going through the campaign a second time with knowledge of certain outcomes to avoid – still a fun feature nonetheless.
Actors do a marvellous job in portraying their respective personalities within each character. The carelessness of one Charlie Lonnit, only makes you hate this bloke more throughout the chapter but you can reform him through a myriad of character swaying choices that turn him from jerk to caring. Kate Wilder, the aspiring actor that looks out for the welfare of the crew can become quite the heartless wench if you begin to have her act brash toward others. This is the excellence of shaping the tale, and having each party member give conscious thought to how they may perceive a suspected threat or distrustful associate on their hands. So how does the game perform? Great. I will say that pre-patch, I ran into a list full of issues that have been exceptionally fixed so be sure to download that patch as soon as you install the game onto your respective platform.
But the title itself does look as fantastic as its counterparts. Yes, it does unfortunately retain some discrepancies such as texture pop-in that occurs from time-to-time. The blank stare while looking to choose which dialogue you want to continue your path with is evermore distracting and could have been cloaked but is quite evident, and yes there are jarring character model animations that will happen within conversational cinematics. So yes, the probability of another patch is high. Regardless, The Devil in Me is a fine conclusion to The Dark Pictures’ first season. From the blood curdling sensations met upon orientation at H.H. Holmes odd tribute hotel, to the psychotic nature that begins to break down between its cast of characters and the events that unfold in front of them, it’s honestly the most emotionally jarring and horrific chapters I’ve experienced in gaming.
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.