Supermassive had a wonderful first half of the year with the release of The Quarry, a title that arguably surpassed their hit, Until Dawn. While The Devil In Me was made aware to the public last year, The Quarry wasn’t until a few months out. As the Developer was already working on the next installment for The Dark Pictures Anthology, The Quarry was quite a surprise. And while I’d love to say the developer finished Season One of The Dark Pictures Anthology with a bang, The Devil In Me didn’t fully deliver. It wasn’t a complete loss as the studio grows with each installment though. Let’s go over what worked and what didn’t. This The Devil In Me review won’t contain spoilers.
Story – Devil in the Details
The Devil In Me follows a group of filmmakers that arrived at a private island that hosts a serial killer hotel. Their plan is to shoot scenes for their latest documentary. The island and the hotel have a history that is explored through documents and clues found throughout the island. Several murders and disappearances have occurred at the hotel that these characters are shooting at. Their only concern is whether they can grab footage for their documentary but they soon come to realize their lives might be in danger. While the story works well, there are some aspects that were alluded to earlier on that seemed to never be brought up again. As for the characters, each of them has their own history with one another and through their interactions, players will understand their motivations and behavior more.
This isn’t Supermassive Games’ best story to date but the setting makes for an engaging horror tale. Compared to previous entries though, storywise, Devil In Me does feel a bit more contained. Most of the game takes place inside the hotel and with only a select few characters. And while not all of it makes sense, I always do appreciate the stories and the location that the studio comes up with. The world here always feels more realized with a backstory that is present for players that wish to discover more. Part of the reason why it also feels more realized is that the length this time runs at almost 8 hours while previous entries were about 4 or 5 hours long.
Gameplay – Bigger and Buggier
The Devil In Me keeps the basic structure of previous games in the anthology. Players will make choices that can determine whether characters live or die. Wrong decisions will result in the death of characters while the right ones will allow players to continue playing them. This time though, The Devil In Me adds to that formula. There is more player interactivity during traversal. Players are able to jump in certain areas, interact with puzzles, climb, and even hide behind objects. Characters are also given items they can use. For example, one character has a card that allows them to open doors. Others will have a flashlight to help see in the dark or a camera they can use to flash and see surrounding areas.
And while these new gameplay mechanics are a welcomed breath of fresh air for the series, The Devil In Me is plagued by numerous bugs. Moments where a cinematic would play and then get abruptly cut or where the camera would become unmoveable were frequently encountered during my playthrough. The camera becoming unmoveable could only be fixed through a restart. It’s possible progressing in the story did so too, but because the camera was stuck, items found during traversal could not be interacted with. Other bugs such as character models breaking, broken puzzles where I couldn’t interact with switches, and where I was unable to control the flashlight were also experienced. These bugs drastically altered my experience, and the frequency of them made progressing through the game a headache.
Online co-op has been a part of The Dark Pictures Anthology for a few installments now. For those that haven’t played through it, two players can take control of different characters in the story. Sometimes the two players are with each other in the same area and sometimes they are not. Playing through it once on co-op is an enjoyable experience. You and a friend are sometimes communicating trying to figure out where to go or what to do. What isn’t so great is how things are connected.
Progressing through the story with a friend that is in a completely different area can sometimes interrupt a player’s playthrough. For example, if player A interacts with a door that leads to a cinematic, it can cut player B’s session early even though player B wasn’t done with their level. It’s a frustrating aspect to online co-op that hopefully is fixed in future titles.
Graphics and Audio – Horrifyingly Beautiful
While The Dark Picture Anthology horror games always look good, they sometimes struggle with facial animations. The Devil In Me in particular felt like it could have used more time to smoothen some of these animations. Character eyes were the major problem here. Eyes would often be looking in the wrong direction or staring absently into nothing. This repeatedly took me out of many cinematics. As for the environment, the game mostly takes place on an island and a hotel. Both the island and the hotel looked great and had many well-designed sets that created a more chilling atmosphere. Apart from some bugs, visually, these games always deliver.
Audio work here was also sufficient. Music works to elevate the tension when navigating through the hotel, but at times felt too obvious. There are occasions where sound works but whenever it played, I just felt as though a cinematic would play rather than being scared something might happen to me. I found that the level design did more to create tension than sound did. When walking around the hotel or outside, scares were achieved from items falling or running into a well-placed mirror. I wish there was more audio work that felt like I was being pursued.
The Devil In Me was reviewed on PC.