Horrifying creatures, a disturbingly mysterious girl and a haunting past, this game has all of the ingredients for the perfect scary pastime. It is the second game in the Dark Pictures Anthology series, the first one being Man of Medan (2019), and was created by Supermassive Games in 2020. Supermassive Games’ previous game, Man of Medan, has a similar gameplay to Little Hope and sold one million copies. With mostly positive reviews from the people that played it and the number of copies they sold, it sets the standards high for this game. The gameplay is different from many other horror games and Supermassive Games have dramatised how the individual plays. So when a character is in play, the available choices and script of each character are decided by the gamer. This is one of the unique aspects of the game as the player doesn’t just follow a storyline, they create it. Another great feature of the game is the amazing graphics, it looks like an actual film; the quality is that good. Go and compare a real photo of Will Poulter and a photo of him playing his characters in the game, there is no difference. However, there are some parts of the storyline that drag and bore slightly with an underwhelming ending. There is also an issue with the choices as once one has been made, it can not be changed until the end.
The plot follows four college students and their professor who get involved in a coach crash near a town called Little Hope. As they travel deeper into the town to get help, they discover that not all is what it seems. The residents know more than they are telling and an eerie fog stops them from leaving. What is even more unsettling is that they all get flashbacks to witch trials during the 17th Century, a part of history that they were all a part of. As the characters try and escape, they encounter some frightening monsters that have a coincidental resemblance to the characters themselves. This plot set the perfect tone for the scares and tension that follows.
Players are given the choice of whether they want to play on their own or with friends. If the gamer chooses multiplayer, each person can either choose who they want to play as or the game will select a character(s) for them. It is a role-playing game, so players control the actions, emotions, scripting and relationships of the characters. With every choice that a gamer makes, the plot will change as well as the future of the selected character. There are little clues in the game that will help players with their choices, such as items in the game that give people a glimpse into the future.
Moreover, the game has an introduction scene that not only sets the scene for gamers but also shows people the controls and how to play the game which is extremely helpful. I have played many games where you press the start button and it throws you right in there. It either quickly shows the controls on the screen, or I have had to pause the game and look at the controls in the settings. It is a very crucial part of the game as it has many important hints and clues to the storyline, so as much as it teaches players the controls, it is very important for everyone to pay attention to the small details in every scene. You need to pay close attention to what happens to the characters and the consequences that follow the players’ choices. The game helps the players by showing them what tone their choices are perceived as by other characters.
These small details appear throughout the whole game and are incredibly significant and useful to the game play. It opens up the chance for people to explore the Little Hope world and will help players with choosing their actions for the characters. It is what makes the game different from any other role-playing game, giving the chance for the player to choose the future of the roles they are playing. From the very start, gamers will notice the butterfly effect is a big feature to the game and something people have to take extreme caution with when deciding which option to choose. The butterfly effect is when one minor choice, one small action can have a massive impact further down the line. Although, the benefit to games like these is that players can replay the game and explore different narratives and endings just in case the ending is not something that you aimed for.
Another amazing aspect to this game is the animation, the characters look like real people. Will Poulter, who has acted in big films like We’re The Millers (2013, dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber) and Maze Runner (2014, dir. Wes Ball), plays Andrew. Poulter’s character is one of the main protagonists and, in my opinion, the most important character in the game. The animation is unbelievably realistic and like I have said before, if you put a photo of Will Poulter next to his character there would be no difference. It is the little details that really puts the cherry on top, such as the light reflections on the characters faces and the creases between their brows when they frown. It is not just the facial expressions but also the movement of the body, which flows, and the voice acting. This goes for all the characters in the game, not just Poulter’s. It very much feels like you are watching a film when playing the game. The acting makes the narrative very clear, so when important scenes and clues are easy to understand.
However, something I came across (alongside many other users) was that the game kept freezing at the same point in the game. Now, I have played many games using a disc with my Xbox One and they have never frozen or glitched. Similarly, it happened to my brother when he played Man of Medan. It eventually did stop and I could play the game but that was after two attempts of turning the Xbox off, then back on and firing up the game. Although this may seem like a petty reason for a bad experience with the game, it was tiring having to deal with that process.
Another exhausting aspect to the game was that some parts of the story dragged as some characters do not have an exciting storyline. As I played this with my brother, I felt that he was given better characters with more horror scenes and intense gameplay. Whereas the characters and scenes I was given were not as thrilling to play. Thus, as much as the plot is clever at the point of revelation and gamers start to piece clues together, there are parts that made me contemplate just saving and doing something else.
Also, a frustrating factor to the game is that if someone is playing the game in single-player and they make a crucial choice that the regret or kill a character, they have to simply deal with it until they have completed the chapter. Once completed, only then can players use the scene selection feature to repeat that chapter. In many games, there is the handy feature of reverting to the last save, so anything that wants to be redone whilst still in gameplay can be. However, in this game, there does not seem to be that feature.
Now this one is due to personal opinion and is a spoiler but I found the ending is underwhelming. The story is very heavy and has so many character plotlines, and I built up this epic ending in my head with all the clues and choices I had made. However, when I found out that the whole thing was just a hallucination I thought, “Oh.” Yes, it is very clever as I have mentioned before, but it is slightly disappointing that everything was essentially a waste of time.
Would I recommend this game to anyone? Yes, despite my bitter feelings towards the ending and having moments of boredom whilst playing, I did play the game to have a good scare and some gaming time with my brother and that is exactly what I experienced.