Having had some hands on time with the first half hour of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, it’s hard to say if Supermassive’s next entry in the Dark Pictures anthology has the heft it’ll need to put the series back on the map after the middling Man of Medan. Despite being left with lingering questions, the first few sequences of the latest choose your own horror game show some promise despite seeming samey.
Little Hope doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to the core gameplay that we’ve come to expect from Supermassive’s cinematic stylings. There are still dismally dark environments to lumber around, dialogue decisions to make, and button-tapping quick time events to accidentally screw up all in an attempt to get as many characters as possible out of the less than ideal circumstances alive.
What has changed this time around is the subject matter. We’ve left the seafaring folk of Medan behind for an entirely new cast of four college students and their professor who all find themselves stranded in the fog-filled Massachusetts town of Little Hope which – as it so happens – is completely devoid of citizenry. A mystery quickly materialises as the professor leading the troupe and the wide-eyed student Andrew begin having apparitions of what appear to be a witch trial, and the people in these apparitions look strangely familiar.
If you’re into any manner of creepy witch stuff based on the 17th century early American colonies, you’ll feel right at home here. The witch trial apparitions are full of people gussied up in the puritanical bonnets and monochromatic garb typical of the time period, and the muted colour palette combines well with the prevalent fog to give Little Hope a tangible tone and feel that make it fit right in with its contemporaries that have pursued the same subject matter.
When it comes to the characters, we’re hopeful that Supermassive might actually deliver this time around. They seem far more likable at the outset than Medan’s cast of careless and clamorous caricatures. Andrew – played by Will Poulter, whose arched eyebrows are still unmistakable in video game form – exhibits a level of sobriety and empathy that wasn’t prevalent in Medan’s core crew. His uniquely genuine demeanor alongside that of the other characters who frequently exhibit emotions instead of cracking one-liners gives us faith that we won’t be groaning the whole way through.
On the other hand, the facial capture that looks rubbery in motion and the cheap jump scares are still here in spades. Animating the nuances of facial movement clearly isn’t easy, but it’s done no favours by Supermassive’s directorial style that’s full of claustrophobic close-ups. Also, prep yourself for lots of loud instrumental stings that make you jump for no reason – yeah, those are back, too.
We so desperately want to see Supermassive reattain the heights it achieved with Until Dawn, but it’s still unclear if Little Hope will be that return to form. Despite our uncertainty, given the excellent co-op modes will be back for this second anthology entry, it’s fairly safe to assume that there will be far worse ways to spend a Halloween evening with some mates once Little Hope releases on 30th October.
Will you be hunkering down with Little Hope this coming Halloween? Scream where no one can hear you in the comments section below.