The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope Review – Tense and Terrifying

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope Review

Get your clean underpants ready as Supermassive Games have unleashed their latest game in time for Halloween: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. With solid foundations and a lineage in the genre, will the latest entry in the franchise be a cheap, hollow trick or a dark, sinister treat?

The interactive drama genre has stirred up some controversy over the years. Some gamers refuse to acknowledge it as a game due to its lack of gameplay whereas others believe it’s the future of narrative-based experiences in the medium. After the release of Heavy Rain, the genre reached new heights and developers attempted to replicate what Quantic Dream had achieved. Now, after the dust has settled, only true masters of the genre stay standing and without question, one of which is Supermassive Games.

The first entry in the anthology was Man of Medan which delivered an enthralling tale focused on the psychological state of isolation. Although an incredible debut, there was room for improvement as the narrative failed to deliver in its final third, and characters’ fates were dependant on the completion of quick-time events which made choices feel insignificant. 

More Than A Sequel

Improving on its predecessor, the story of Little Hope is deep and intricate. In a non-linear manner, the narrative follows two concurrent storylines that drip feeds information throughout the 4 to 5-hour playtime. The game follows a group of students and their teacher whose bus crashes on their way to a field trip. As they try to get in contact with someone, they begin to notice strange elements. Shadows creep, mystical fog appears, and my underpants soil. Parallel to this is a story that is set in the midst of the Salem Witch Trials. Although at first, these segments may bewilder the audience, cleverly, the plots begin to make sense as they intertwine and affect one another. 

Supermassive Games truly show themselves as pioneers of narrative in the medium as Little Hope delivers an intense and haunting experience. With cinematography that echoes the greats in film and low-key lighting that accentuates key areas in the frame, the game is a masterclass in art direction. In addition, the eerie score and stellar voice-acting make this truly one of the greats of the genre.

In true horror fashion, the game predominantly uses a fixed camera angle that restricts your view. This adds to the intensity of scenes as you are unable to look around corners to ensure your safety before progressing, which results in constantly being on edge throughout your time on the game. Although the game is a linear experience, particular areas give you control of the camera and allow you to explore, find objects, and collect items that may prove useful later on in the game. 

Similar to other titles in the genre, your decisions are key. However, developing on their previous effort, your decisions seem to have a greater impact and are down to choice rather than merely missing a button prompt. Each decision, dialogue choice, and action is tracked and noted through an indicator at the top of the screen which helps to make the gamer feel as if the experience is unique to them. You can track your relationship status through the menu, which shows the impact of all your choices which further cements the feeling of choice.

Decide Your Fate

Little Hope’s branching narrative and relatively short playtime will allow gamers to replay the campaign in order to experience new outcomes and a different ending. With permadeath being ever-present, it’s exciting to see how a character’s death or survival would affect the outcome of the story. Adding to the aspect of replayability, players can experience a ‘Shared Story’ where you can play the game with others online, taking complete control out of your hands. This is an excellent way to enjoy Little Hope and could prove to be a hit this Halloween. In addition to this is the returning ‘Movie Night’ mode where you can play locally with up to 4 players each controlling a different character. Supermassive Games have successfully added many features in order to make this a title that you revisit…if you dare.

Although beautifully paced in order to build suspense, some people may feel that the game meanders as it has not been designed to offer thrills every second. In addition to this, with a fixed camera angle comes cumbersome controls. Even though the static camera builds the feeling of claustrophobia and insecurity, this does affect the movement of characters, especially when transitioning from angle to angle.

The Dark Anthologies: Little Hope improves on the franchise’s previous entry in all aspects and is one of the most compelling narratives that I have experienced in recent times. With an incredible ending that left a profound, lasting effect, this is a game that fans of interactive dramas need to experience. Supermassive Games have slowly honed their skills in order to be considered one of the giants in storytelling and Little Hope has left me excited in anticipation of the next entry in what is proving to be a landmark series.

*** PS4 key provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Beautifully paced
  • Engaging narrative
  • Choices feel meaningful

The Bad

  • Clunky movement
  • A few horror clichés
  • Short playtime