2020’s been a pretty scary year. I mean, we haven’t had a single Marvel Cinematic Universe film come out! How can anyone bear to go on? Still, we all trudge forth, hoping beyond hope that 2021 might be better. Maybe a little more horror will take some of the edge off. If you’re interested in scares, you might want to take a look at The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, the latest entry in the ongoing Dark Pictures Anthology from Until Dawn vets Supermassive Games.
School trips are always a nice time, right? That’s what our college-age pals Andrew (Will Poulter), Daniel, Taylor, and Angela thought, anyway, when they hopped on a bus with their teacher John. It’s less of a nice time when the bus breaks down, of course, and things get even worse when it turns out that the only settlement our heroes can turn to for help is the very-obviously-haunted town of Little Hope. We’ll follow these guys as they explore the town, seek assistance and hope that they make it out alive.
Little Hope has a lot in common with the previous Dark Pictures game, Man of Medan. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that they’re billed as part of the same anthology, after all. The closest comparison you could make would be something like David Cage’s movie-games: story-focused narrative adventures with the odd bit of quick-time event here and there. It’s very easy to play, using simple button-mashing and timing mechanics when excitement arises, and it would very much like you to have a coop partner, so if you can rope a friend into a purchase, more’s the better.
The big selling point of these games is the fact that the decisions you make have an effect on the plot over time. Characters can die early if you have them do the wrong thing, for instance, and their absence will change future scenes. It’s a nice touch compared to most games that have a straightforward, unchanging plot. It’s possible that everyone survives, everyone dies and everything else down the spectrum, so it’s a game that’s great for replay value.
Man of Medan was a seafaring horror tale with a focus on pirates and possession. Little Hope, meanwhile, is all about witches, demons and the like, leaning heavily into that Salem Witch Trials feel that you know and love. Little Hope’s moderately scary in the summer-blockbuster sense and it tends to go a bit harder on the terror a little earlier than Man of Medan did, which is a nice touch. There are more creepy-crawlies around and you’ll end up feeling like you’re in legitimate danger much more quickly. If that’s not an improvement for a horror game, what is?
Little Hope runs and plays pretty well, which isn’t too surprising given it’s an interactive movie. Pretty much any hardware should be able to handle it with no trouble if you’re playing on PC, but you’ll probably want to use a gamepad since the game’s very much made for it. As for the presentation, again, it’s summer blockbuster fare of the sort you’d expect from Man of Medan, though there’s definitely something to be said for the fantastic new monster designs.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is a generally good time, especially if you can grab somebody for coop. One quick note, though: the ending is something else, and not in a good way. Let’s just leave it at that. If you can deal with most of the game getting shaken up a little by the last ten minutes or so, Little Hope is a great continuation of the Dark Pictures Anthology. Perhaps the best part of the game might be the teaser for the next entry in the series, House of Ashes. Let’s hope the conclusion to that one is a little less…well, again, let’s leave it at that.