After three increasingly better entries in The Dark Pictures Anthology from Until Dawn team Supermassive Games, The Devil in Me looks like a properly bigger and expanded sequel. While Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes all felt like they were cut from the same cloth, the season one finale of the anthology series comes equipped with genuine gameplay improvements and new features. With what appears to be the franchise's best setting yet, The Devil in Me is seemingly primed to continue that upwards trend in quality.
Now confirmed to be releasing for PS5 and PS4 on 18th November 2022, we recently had the chance to view a half an hour presentation which provided a deep dive into the game's inspirations, setting, characters, and plot. Just like other instalments in The Dark Pictures Anthology, this is a standalone story that only shares The Curator character from the other entries.
The setting this time around is a creepy, abandoned hotel that's said to be an exact recreation of the famous World's Fair Hotel. In 1861, Dr. Howard Henry Holmes became known as America's first serial killer after he lined his bed and breakfast with traps designed to kill guests — or at least never let them leave. He pleaded guilty to 27 murders and was hanged in May 1896, but very little is known about what the innards of the hotel actually looked like.
Fast forward to the present day and a TV production company is basing its season finale on the killings of H. H. Holmes. Without any idea what the hotel actually looked like beyond the front door, though, the team is running out of ideas, money, and content fast. That is until they receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to know a place with an exact recreation of the hotel from hell. Believing they've hit the jackpot, the crew hands over their mobile phones and travels to the remote location. The problem is that the recreation of the World's Fair Hotel awaiting them is a lot more accurate than they're expecting.
The Devil in Me is sort of like The Shining meets SAW; developer Supermassive Games says as much during its presentation. Taking the claustrophobia, quiet oppression, and possibility of danger around every corner of the Stanley Kubrick classic, it couples those themes with the sort of deadly traps and life-changing dilemmas you'd expect Jigsaw to come up with. It creates a sense of dread where more than just the physical pitfalls of the hotel could spell a character's demise. The studio says its latest game has the "most gruesome and extravagant, over-the-top" deaths it's "ever done". What we saw certainly backs that claim up.
Underneath the hotel in an abandoned spa complex, the game comes across as a much more naturally flowing experience rather than one stitched together through your choices. While not confirmed, we get the impression you can freely wander the hotel at certain moments instead of pursuing the main objective. All of what fans love is still there — inspecting objects on the ground, for example — but this appears to be a title much less interested in holding your hand all the time.
The cast might want it to, though, considering one gameplay improvement grants them much more manoeuvrability. Characters can now climb over objects, scale ladders, fit through tight gaps, and shimmy along narrow walkways. These new explorative actions may not seem like a big deal — they are part and parcel of modern games, after all — but it's one example of how the world is becoming much more interactive as Supermassive Games widens the sort of possibilities predecessors didn't have. You can even run now!
Another is a simple inventory system. Each member of the TV crew has an item exclusive to them, but they can be handed around. Charlie, the director of the shoot, has a business card he can use to unlock latches. Cameraman Mark uses his lenses to gather evidence, presenter Kate has a pencil that can uncover clues by shading over paper, and Jamie rewires electrical circuits through his multimeter. Finally, Erin the intern can hear through walls thanks to her directional microphone.
Every one of these tools can affect the plot, uncovering more of the backstory if you use them in the right places and advancing plot points. They can save someone's life, or be the cause of one's demise.
In addition, existing mechanics and features have been expanded. Puzzles are said to be much more involved, with code combinations sourced naturally from the world around you and outdoor mazes to find your way out of. Lives are on the line during these sequences, and clocking in at around seven hours, The Devil in Me will provide ample opportunity for those tests to go pear-shaped.
Ultimately, the game will live or die based on its story. That's what matters most in these types of titles, and how it weaves its way into the setting, characters, and themes. The Devil in Me can already make a case for being up there with the best Dark Pictures games, though, based on what we've seen prior to release; its setting appears intriguing and fantastic, and Supermassive Games' inspirations this time around have us excited for what else awaits. We'll have the full story come 18th November 2022, but until then, The Devil in Me firmly remains a PS5, PS4 game near the top of our wishlist.
Are you looking forward to playing The Devil in Me this November? Have you been enjoying The Dark Pictures Anthology up until now? Share all your thoughts and theories in the comments below.