Until Dawn‘s legacy lives on with Supermassive’s continuing anthology series. The second game in the Dark Pictures series called Little Hope brings along a brand new story with interesting mysteries and unique characters. This is by far a step forward from Man of Medan and brings new hope for the future games in their anthology. Although short but sweet, it’s still leagues away from how Until Dawn introduced interactive storytelling to the gaming space.
Story – A thrill with a twist
I began my play-through of Little Hope with expectations to the ground, not knowing how it would hold up compared to its highly appraised predecessor. Only 4 hours later, I walked away with much surprise to how well crafted the story became. I’m just now getting into horror games, so I’d recommend this to anyone just getting into the genre. It leans much more on its interactive story rather than the horror factor.
Being far more intriguing than the last title, Little Hope starts with a devastating introduction to a family from the 70s who died in a horrible and haunting house fire. In the present day, a professor and his four students are off on a strange field trip, when their bus crashes and lands them in the mysterious town of Little Hope. As the player, you’ll find yourself asking a million questions, but by the end of the journey, it will all make perfect sense.
The group’s mission is to escape the town since every time they try to leave the fog traps them back into Little Hope. It’s a deserted ghost town that leaves players unsettled on what to do or where to go. It gets even stranger when a third backstory set in the 18th century during devastating witch trials is introduced.
Once you get further into the game, you begin to realize how all the stories and characters are connected. It was an enjoyable story that seemed to leave off on a suitable ending until a shocking twist pulls you back in. I was left feeling the puzzle pieces come together, yet still in utter shock at the same time. If you have time to sit down for one gaming session, this game is worth it.
Aside from the story, the characters were fairly forgettable. I would level up or downgrade the relationship levels between characters without feeling it really mattered. Even when I unlocked certain traits, I couldn’t explore them enough. Perhaps if Supermassive gave more time to this story rather than making a dozen games in an anthology, we could get to know the characters better. Once the ending arrives it’s hard to connect with anybody at all.
It’s a nice change to have a unique cast of characters, but it still lacked the personality and dynamic that Until Dawn’s characters had. Nothing seemed to really change between them, even when the game was telling me every decision matters. But alas, it is an anthology, and Supermassive is pumping out smaller titles yearly. It’s understandable, and for those short 4 hours of a spooky story I can go along with it.
Gameplay – Little options
If you couldn’t tell from my pun in the subtitle, the game is an interactive story with not much gameplay. Without the story, there’s not much here to play with. There are some features such as quick-time events and hitting the heartbeat at the right moments, but other than that it’s a walking simulator. The game lets you walk around your environments while being limited to picking up and putting down objects.
That sounds pretty harsh, but it wasn’t like I was expecting an open-world RPG here. You get what you buy, and I came to this game looking for scares and storytelling. I didn’t mind not having a lot of gameplay options. Also, due to the nature of the series, they’re making games by the year, and they seem to be focusing more on the story rather than gameplay. If that’s not for you, then don’t buy this.
One thing that I did enjoy was the theatre mode, where you can invite your friends over and pass the controller around. You assign yourself to certain characters that only you can play. It also works online, which is perfect during this worldwide pandemic. I played Little Hope through couch co-op and it was pretty entertaining.
One thing from the gameplay I was let down on was the lack of scares. This wasn’t any Outlast, it was more focused on timed jump scares and creepy monsters. Sometimes the jump scares would even resort to a loud sound suddenly playing, even if nothing was really happening on screen. I only jolted about one time this entire game, but I did appreciate the unique set of monsters.
Graphics and Audio – Impressive immersion
It’s 2020 and the end of a console generation, so it’s no surprise that this game looks realistic. Each character and their models look and act as real as the motion-capture would’ve looked in real-time. The environments all have the same dark blue lighting, making it hard to tell how pretty the environments actually looked. The flashbacks have a different tint to them, opposing the blue with a rich orange look.
Listen, it’s a ghost town at midnight, it’s not meant to look pretty. But the environments when visible didn’t stand out anyway. Nothing really caught my eye besides the character’s on-point facial expressions. When looking back at Until Dawn, you can tell how much the studio has improved on making the player feel as grounded in the world and characters as possible, and it works.
When exploring audio, the only thing that stood out was Supermassive’s usual intro, which is the same for the whole anthology. After that music-video type introduction, we hear the audio in the game space. Even if nothing caught my eye—well, in this case, my ear—any sort of minimal background noise while I walked through the woods would make my head turn faster each time.
They did a great job at actually making me feel like I was walking on eggshells around Little Hope. I wouldn’t know when something would shake in the bushes, or a monster would groan in the distance, or perhaps a wolf would howl. Apart from that, the game included your average horror jump scare shrieks, which surprisingly didn’t make me flinch.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope was reviewed for PC.