Horror fans are still in luck. After a time when the closest thing to a horror game was micropayments, we now have scary games of all colours. Supermassive Games has found its niche in cinematic storytelling adventures and has become an incredibly prolific studio capable of releasing at least one a year. The last one is the one that concerns us today, The Devil in Me.
The Devil in Me is, logically, and as part of this anthology, another game that continues the formula of the previous ones. Each game adds little new features, and this is no exception. We will delve into this later. For those unfamiliar with The Dark Pictures Anthology, it is a series of titles that focus on making decisions to try to save the characters, with gameplay that revolves around exploration and solving quick time events and other small mini-games.
There are two pillars in this type of game: the story and the decisions matter. In The Devil in Me, decisions matter. If you’ve played the previous titles, you’ll know they can be played over the internet with friends. While some sequences are done together, others are entirely different, in other locations, with other characters. It has called our attention that playing through the internet, what our colleagues do or advise based on what they see on another part of the map, can be direct, making our lives depend not only on our actions but also on others. So yes, decisions matter a lot.
History, for its part, has left us a little colder. We loved the setting, as well as its proposal. The Devil in Me revolves around HH Holmes, considered the first serial killer in the United States, who confessed to killing 27 people, a number that is suspected to be much lower than reality. Legend has it that he used his hotel to create a labyrinth of lethal traps and secret torture rooms to murder guests. While the truth is that much of this was exaggerated or made up by the press, Supermassive uses the legend as the basis for this new adventure.
Specifically, we put ourselves in the shoes of an investigative team that travels the world to make documentaries about stories of this type. Things are not going particularly well, and the show is on the brink of cancellation. So when they receive an invitation from a great fan of Holmes’s “play” to visit a recreation of his hotel, they accept the offer. Entertainment is aesthetic and functional, and such a peculiar fan enjoys theory and practice. From there, it’s up to us to get out alive. The problem with the story for us is that it’s incredibly predictable from start to finish, with no surprises and a conclusion that leaves us cold.
The Devil in Me, like the previous titles, introduces a couple of new features to become more interactive when we control the characters. In this case, we can climb and jump obstacles, the inventory and the unique abilities of each team member. The first is to be appreciated; above all, it gives a little more “credibility” to the adventure. Now, if a man with an axe chases us, jumping over a piece of furniture to escape is not impossible. The other two novelties are somewhat anecdotal.
The inventory is limited to some objects we can use to illuminate and specific objects we use for some action. That is, we have particular things that the game decides when to use, so in the end, in reality, this inventory means that the flashlight (or whatever light source it is) is activated by pressing up on the crosshead. The same goes for each character’s unique abilities, tied to items related to their job on the recording crew. When the game requires them for a specific moment, they are activated. No more. Finally, we must mention a few simple puzzles that we liked that made us think for a few minutes.
An excellent graphic section… done in a hurry?
Supermassive Games promises us more than the remarkable visual section for their adventures, but it seems they have run out of time to polish it. We don’t know if it’s because it’s longer or because they’re trying to automate more each time to optimize development, but it’s a title that feels less polished than the previous ones. From abrupt cuts between sequences to increasingly robotic characters, it seemed like a step back from its last title, The Quarry.
The settings and character models still look great, and it’s surprising how careful the treatment of skin and muscles is during facial expressions. Still, when it comes to animation, most of it feels automatic. There are obvious moments of motion capture for the body. Still, the characters often communicate erratically, with lifeless eyes that not only didn’t we see in The Quarry but also weren’t quite as vacant in House of Ashes. This seems essential for a game where you must empathize with the characters.
Finally, we the sound section we liked a lot. With a well-rounded soundtrack that knows when to kick in to build tension and sound effects that finish the job, it’s a core part of the game.
At the end of the first season
We won’t deny that we expected more from the finale of the first season of The Dark Pictures Anthology. We know that making a game like this is a tremendous job and that launching one a year has to make it even more difficult, but that doesn’t mean that, even though we’ve enjoyed this adventure, it has left us a bit cold. More perhaps because of a story with a rather improvable ending, in our humble opinion, than because of the adventure as such, which is very entertaining (especially in the company) and with decisions that matter. If you have enjoyed the other parts of the anthology, The Devil in Me will please you. If not, you will not find anything that will make you change your mind.
We prepared this review with a code for the PS5 version provided by Bandai Namco.