Set in Iraq in 2003, the invading United States army is looking for weapons of mass destruction wink wink. Satellite imagery has alerted them to a potential hiding spot for some of Saddam Hussein's nastiest toys, and so they send in a small unit to investigate who quickly run afoul of some Iraqi soldiers and soon both sets of troops are trapped in an underground facility with something far more sinister than chemical weapons. Hint: it's monsters.
These monsters don't really care what uniform their lunch is wearing, and so working together may be the only way any of the soldiers can survive. The narrative is quite predictable and heavy-handed, but it's tightly paced and builds to a satisfying conclusion which makes it the best tale of the series so far.
Horror is the big loser here as House of Ashes isn't remotely scary, but there's an underlying tension that keeps things interesting throughout. This is for all intents and purposes an interactive action movie with a horror twist rather than a title that aims to have you jumping out of your seat — think Aliens rather than Alien.
The creatures, it should be said, look pretty ridiculous, and a particular variant of monster introduced toward the end actually had us guffawing to ourselves rather than shying away in terror.
Gameplay-wise, not much has changed since Little Hope. You'll spend much of your time walking about, inspecting objects, talking to people, making decisions, and taking part in quick-time events. The formula works, and the six or seven hour running time means that the rudimentary controls don't outstay their welcome.