The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope gives us a little hope for the future of the Supermassive Games horror series. With some smart gameplay tweaks, Little Hope emphasizes the important role of Super Massive in modern adventure spaces, but to really make smart changes shine, future games in the studio will do this. It also emphasizes why it needs to be better than.
Little Hope is a mashup of horror metaphors and sub-genres, like the Man of Medan just before. I borrowed an iconography from the Blair Witch Project. I’m borrowing Puritan-era paranoia from a witch (and Arthur Miller’s non-horror play crucible). And the conceit of finding a group of college students and their professors stuck in the woods after the bus crash is a familiar premise to Stephen King’s mist and John Carpenter’s The Fog fans. It depends on. As the game progressed, I became more and more skeptical that those threads would come together in a satisfying way. After all, they don’t, but I still had a good time getting to that disappointing conclusion.
Little Hope begins with a flashback to the 1970s and a brief introduction to a troubled family of six. Dad is a heavy drinker. My sister feels isolated and depressed. And with hints of spiritual warfare that dominates much of the second half of Little Hope, the sister was repeatedly suppressed to speak to the minister after the church. If my sister leaves the doll on the stove, the embers of these glowing dramas quickly burn into a literally fierce fire. In the ensuing flames, all members of the family die of their horrific death, with the exception of Will Poulter’s Anthony, who is helplessly watching.
Our focus soon shifts to another group-Professor, John and four students, Andrew, Angela, Taylor, Daniel-trying to regain their bearings after a bus crash stuck in the woods. I will. The bus driver who caused the crash went missing, and the Field Trip Group realized that it was surrounded by a mysterious fog. Each member of this group is a dead ringer of family members from the opening of the game. Then, as the group steps into the abandoned town of Little Hope, they begin to have a vision of the early Doppelganger, a former inhabitant of the town, caught in the deadly delusions of a 17th-century witch trial.
Despite the vast cast, you control only the current version of the character. As you do, you make a dialogue decision by pointing the compass needle at one of the two spoken options or the option that is always present just to silence. Your choices affect the dynamics of your character’s relationships and also cause changes in their personality traits.
As the story unfolds, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Little Hope’s time-hopping ambitions now hinder the ability of many successful characters to work here. There is only a vague idea of who John, Angela, Taylor, Daniel and Andrew are. In previous games, Supermassive presented characters and archetypes that worked well, allowing players to further define their personality within those boundaries by agreeing or disagreeing with the types. The types aren’t very well defined here, making it difficult to even give an opinion on what each character does or doesn’t do. In a bonus unlockable interview with Will Poulter, the actor described his character as socially awkward. “I Guess I thought he was socially awkward, “but when I looked back at the game, I realized that I had the impression that his character actually told another character that he was socially awkward. The moment-to-moment character interaction reveals these details. As a result, the central cast of Little Hope doesn’t feel like a three-dimensional character. Some of them are not even successful archetypes.
While exploring, control the movement of the character and the beam of the flashlight as the camera frames the character in a traditional biohazard-style angle. This is one of my favorite habits of supermassive design. This is one of the few studios in modern mainstream games with a torch for fixed camera horror. However, the fact that much of Little Hope takes place on lonely roads means that Super Massive has little room to play from a perspective. In most cases, Little Hope has the equivalent of a slightly zoomed-out third-person perspective. This feels like a missed opportunity given the talent for supermassive shot composition.
However, there are some positive changes. Little Hope seems to be technically much healthier than the Man of Medan, and as a result, the story handles the supermassive trademark divergence path more smoothly than ever before. The Man of Medan hitchhikes noticeably when trying to put everything together and probably circulates between different versions of the cutscene, depending on which member of the party is still alive, but Little Hope is one. It feels like telling a seamless story. Little Hope truly nails the feeling that everything that is happening is being made.For example, in one scene where you can only play with the fast-growing couple Taylor and Daniel. Or Daniel is a pair with an older non-traditional student, Angela, who says something to the effect that “we will both get out of this, you will see.” If only Daniel and Taylor, it works as it is. But when Angela exists and is excluded from Daniel’s “both”, it becomes a moment of personality formation and clears her throat sharply. In this way, Little Hope can use the constraints inherent in its flexible narrative to do some great character work, even if the work is wasted on the overall development. I will.
In addition, QTE, which defines a supermassive adrenaline pumping approach to life-threatening actions, is at its best here. Instead of popping up randomly, the timing of pressing a button is now displayed first as a warning. This is smartly placed on the screen before you need to press the button, reflecting the placement of the button on the controller. This doesn’t relieve tension, but it’s more likely to succeed without spending multiple playthroughs to learn the timing first.
However, the characteristic system goes in the opposite direction. Making a decision emphasizes personality traits such as “terrifying” and “reckless.” If you lean in one direction and make a good decision, you’ll see a padlock symbol next to that trait in your character profile, indicating that the trait has become an immutable part of your personality. This can be explained, but since it wasn’t explained in advance, it took two complete playthroughs to understand how this system works. This system is opaque and not tutorialed, so it will have a big impact later in the game. However, when playing, it’s very frustrating to see the character’s fate tied to a system that the game didn’t explain, given the lock context that appears next to the trait. Linking personality traits to a character’s fate may make sense in the story, but it’s presented in an ambiguous way that would result in the death of a particular late-game character that feels completely out of your control. I will. The UI has been improved to the best iterations in Little Hope, but the trait system ensures that making a character a shepherd through the game is a frustrating 5 hours of practice in trial and error.
Still, despite its shortcomings, Little Hope can’t help but remember why I love the take of super-massive modern narrative adventure games. The studio is good at creating tension through simple gameplay with the push of a button in a timely manner, and Little Hope is the highest level of technology in the studio. Although the story and character works are characteristically dull, Little Hope can still provide a solid foundation for the future of Super Massive.