The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me Review – Hotel Hell
Developed by Supermassive Games
Published by Bandai Namco Entertainment
Available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation
Throughout The Dark Pictures Anthology, we have seen the interactive movie genre change and transform. While Until Dawn Super Massives’ first outing was one of the strongest we’ve seen from the developer, we have seen some excellent growth out of them. Unfortunately, with Man Of Medan and Little Hope, the first and second games in the anthology, there were a lot of rough spots between technical issues in Man of Medan and the same jump scare being used repeatedly for Little Hope. As a result, one might have written this series off. But I implore you to see your way through House of Ashes, the game in the series that really redeems itself and, in my mind, is on the same echelon as Until Dawn. So hoping they learned from how well House of Ashes was executed. I was really excited to see how this season one finale of The Dark Pictures Anthology would tie it all together and hopefully put in a strong finish.
Have you ever seen those super old-timey moving pictures? You know the ones where the villain twirls his mustache while he straps a lady to the railroad tracks? You may be asking yourself why does this matter? Well, this is the vibe and feel of The Devil In Me for the first hour. The story centers around H.H Holmes as we spend time with America’s first serial killer, playing through one of his murders.
Smash cut to 2022, and we meet our cast for The Devil In Me. A documentary crew making a TV show about H.H Holmes, and the director and owner of the documentary team get a mysterious phone call from a man who inherited his uncle’s recreation of H.H Holmes murder hotel. Struggling to get his show off the ground, the director Charlie, talks his team into going to the murder hotel. Eventually, things turn for the worst the team ends up fighting for their lives as twists and turns reveal what is happening behind the scenes.
The setup in The Devil In Me is a cool one. However, while it does have this weird prologue with its initial setup of H.H. Holmes coming across as this Snidley Whiplash 1950s mustache-twirling ridiculously conniving villain is laughable, it does pull it back near the end of the prologue. And stumbling its way through the setup chapter left me feeling like I disliked all of our main cast. It was unfortunate because it made the game’s opening hours rough.
Thankfully once it’s opening set up with our gang of filmmakers, once things start to go down, you get a sense that a lot of them are just putting on these faces, which landed quite well with me. Especially Erin, the anxiety-ridden asthma sufferer. So basically me. It made it so that once characters started getting mixed up in the killer’s game, I wanted to do everything I could to keep these kids alive.
Speaking of dying, as with the games before, you may lose characters here permanently. But without spoiling anything, some of the deaths here feel more like a punishment. Following your better judgment here is seldom the way to go. I played by making only the dumbest choices possible for characters, and they lived longer than the playthrough I used my brain and instincts for.
The system of finding death totems returns again this time in the form of medical pictures. It’s still interesting and vague enough that they give you hints without revealing entire sequences. What is vastly different here is the way that the characters interact with the environment. While in past games, it mostly points A to B with little reason to explore outside, finding extra notes. Here you need to explore and use the tools at everyone’s disposal to solve puzzles and find additional clues that help further unwind the mystery. For example, Mark being the photographer and camera guy, has an equivalent as a selfie stick that he can use to reach items on a higher shelf. Or Kate, who has a pencil that can be used to see notes left on paper pads. It only adds a little to the gameplay and makes certain moments feel a little long in the tooth, but it’s still a nice edition that shows they are trying to mix up the formula. After four Dark Picture games and two other titles, it needs to be shaken up a bit.
The additions mean that the chase and hide portion of the gameplay is expanded to use the additional toolset for movement options like crawling, jumping, and crouching. Unfortunately, the crouching specifically is a little janky and weird. At one point, I had to crouch behind a shelf, then when the prompt went away and the scene switched to another camera angle, I let go of the crouch button and was caught. Say what you will about the series, but this was the first time the prompt left the screen that you were still expected to somehow know to keep it held. It was very infuriating because it meant I was funneled into a character’s death.
Overall, The Devil In Me is a side step for the series, while I enjoyed it more than the too-drawn-out Quarry released earlier this year. It’s not without its faults, with technical hiccups prevalent in the opening hours and the dead eyes the characters sport through is starting to get to me a little bit. However, I enjoyed where the story went, and I am excited for what comes next in the series, as long as SUppermassive keeps on learning from their mistakes which they mostly have here, it’s still just hard to recommend over the previous entry, House of Ashes which was hitting on all cylinders.