Mindless and gory games are all well and good. However, I always make room for dramatic and testing titles that have a deep plot. Though these experiences are normally time-consuming, I appreciate the intricacies, the various characters, and the lavish environments. Consequently, when I was offered The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me to review, I couldn’t turn it down.
Developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, this is an interactive drama and survival horror. What’s more, it has a complex plot, an ever-changing storyline, and some high-maintenance characters. Furthermore, it is the 4th instalment in this wonderful franchise and retains many much-loved mechanics while offering some new elements.
The Quarry was a Supermassive Games release that I thoroughly enjoyed, and the 3 previous instalments of this series have been intense, challenging, and memorable. As such, if The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is only 70% as good, then it will be an incredible and horrifying experience.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me starts as it means to go on.
As The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is so story-heavy, I’m going to try to avoid any spoilers. Yet, I will endeavour to give a brief outline without ruining many of the unpleasant surprises. The action follows a team of 5 documentary makers. This group wishes to go out with a bang and therefore, they take a gamble when a mysterious invite heads their way. The leader of this crew is offered the opportunity to film in a modern replica of serial killer H. H. Holmes’ “Murder Castle”. On arrival, it appears to be a fantastic opportunity, but as the plot unfolds, you soon realise that they have bitten off more than they can chew.
Without going any further, this gives you an understanding of how twisted and mysterious this game is. On top of this, you must decide how to progress and try to balance the relationship between each character and another. What’s more, you’ll be expected to find items, solve puzzles, and run, leap, and crawl past obstacles. Unlike its predecessors, these new mechanics add a challenging layer to proceedings. Furthermore, the inventory system demands that you search each nook and cranny while making every puzzle more complex and convoluted.
Decisions have consequences.
Now, I adored how the plot played out, and the pace of each cinematic. However, the shining light has to be the consequential decision-making. At every key moment, you are free to decide how the action progresses. Whether it is a conversation, an action, or simply the path you take, it has massive ramifications on the end product. Subsequently, your decisions have game-altering consequences, and the protagonists can pay with their lives. Moreover, you can make or break each relationship with the push of a button.
Though these choices may seem minor, they can lead to some weird and wonderful cinematic. If one of the heroes is isolated, they could become trapped, hunted, or worse. Yet, if the team can stick together and work things out, potentially, they can escape their doomed fate and the evil presence at the “Murder Castle”.
Like many interactive drama games, The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is punctuated by QTEs. These simple tasks enable you to open doors, unlock furniture, rewire fuse boxes, and tackle any unwelcome guests. On top of this, they highlight each character’s personality, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, you are expected to hide in plain sight, control your heart rate and much more. Accordingly, this isn’t simply a voyeuristic endeavour with some exploration elements. No, instead, you are in control of every aspect of the story, and that was fantastic.
Unlike its predecessors, the developers have accounted for human error in many of these events. Consequently, mistakes aren’t as hard-hitting as they used to be, and I was grateful for this change. Alongside this, the introduction of platforming elements and balancing mechanics expand the playing area while retaining a sense of oppression and claustrophobia.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is incredibly dark and eerie.
The correct use of lighting can make all the difference. Thankfully, Supermassive Games has done an incredible job. The dank and eerie world is uncomfortable and petrifying. What’s more, you are always on the edge of your seat as you await the inevitable “brown trouser” moment. Subsequently, every room and corridor fills you with expectant dread and this was exhausting. On top of the excellent settings were the phenomenal cinematic. The level of detail is second to none, and the amazing animation and realistic character models are truly breathtaking.
This is complemented by the atmospheric audio. The stunning environmental sounds set the scene, while the varied soundtrack adds energy, drama, and a lighthearted twist to the action. Additionally, the acting is incredible and you’ll love, loathe, and fall for each character’s unique charms. Like the visuals, the audio is intense, well-considered, and perfectly balanced.
When QTEs are your bread and butter, the controls have to be amazing. Fortunately, they were well-considered, responsive, and easy to understand. Alongside this, the simple and robust UI ensures that you always know what to do. However, if you happen to become lost, there are plenty of hints and tutorials to get you back on track.
With multiple storylines to explore, plenty of QTEs to overcome, a massive hotel to explore, and oodles of puzzles, this has replay value and longevity at its core. On top of this, there are collectables to find, dioramas to unlock, and premonitions to discover. Moreover, each playthrough allows you to potentially save every member of the crew. However, doing this is no mean feat, and it’ll take more luck than judgement to succeed.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is incredible.
This genre can be hit-and-miss. When a developer gets it wrong, the experience is dull, tepid, and wooden. Furthermore, the setting is disinteresting, and the game lacks oomph. Thankfully, though, The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me does everything right. The characters are interesting, playful, and cruel in equal measure. What’s more, the plot is deep, and sinister, and has many twists and turns. Alongside this, the QTEs are intriguing, challenging, and enjoyable. Accordingly, this is an incredible game and I recommend that you buy it here! Few things in life are guaranteed. However, death is one of them! Can you survive this horrific ordeal, or has the Grim Reaper signed your death warrant?