The second instalment in the Dark Pictures Anthology not only tells a better story than Man of Medan but overall, its setting, characters and frights go above and beyond its predecessor. It still has some rough patches, there are some major pacing issues and not all the acting feels authentic. However, I just thought the “Salem meets Blair Witch” approach fits perfectly with Supermassive Games and their mission to perfect the video game storytelling genre. For the most part, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope makes for a great first playthrough. The ending is still one massive shocker of a moment which I did not see coming but more on that later.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope follows a group of students who are on their way to a field trip. A sudden accident causes them to get stranded in an abandoned town called Little Hope. This once-thriving town fell into financial ruin due to multiple issues which I discovered along the way. While the game did not throw pages and pages of lore at me, I felt like it was enough to keep me interested in the happenings of the people and the shortcomings of the town.
Of course, just like Mad of Medan, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope saw me control a range of characters at different points of the game. There is no main character so to say. Instead, the game tries to make them all feel important even if they are the most annoying people on the planet. The cast is also brought to life thanks to the somewhat decent acting throughout the game. Each cast member also takes on multiple roles as historical figures. It was enjoyable to see how they adapted to these roles. For example, while Will Poulter plays Andrew, he is also Anthony and Abraham. These two characters play vital roles in the game’s story and while they are played by the same actor they are unique with their own personality and accents.
While Will Poulter was the only familiar face, after Googling the rest of the cast, I remembered where and when I know them from. Ellen David who plays Angela also played Maria Auditore in Assassins’s Creed II, for example. It was strange to see the rest of the cast besides Will have different faces and I can’t but wonder why this was the case. It would have been even better from a character point of view to have actors play their own face in the game. I could not help but feel as if I invested myself more in Andrew because of his familiar face. It is not a dealbreaker though.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is all about the scares, making choices and responding quick enough to certain prompts so that I did not meet a nasty fate. Anyone who has played Until Dawn, Man of Medan or any other Supermassive Game will feel right at home here. There are multiple ways the story can play out and multiple ways a player can die a gruesome death. I thought I had it all in the bag and saved them all until the end came and screwed me over.
It also helps a lot that Little Hope puts a large emphasis on exploration, picking up items and reading newspapers. This all sheds light on the game’s past and its characters. Not to mention the flashbacks tell some heartbreaking tales of Witch Hunts that took place hundreds of years ago. Watching innocent people get burnt alive was something else. The more I played, the more I wanted to discover. The joy of piecing it all together in my mind made this game a lot of fun to play. Especially when the story came and contradicted everything I thought was going on.
What do you get when you take a bunch of teens, a grumpy old lady and a depressed middle-aged man and place them in a haunted town? Well, you get a mismatch of emotions. Most of the time, the characters are fleshed out and bearable. However, I could not help but cringe at some annoying dialogue and questionable editing choices as one character went from scared to a straight face in a second. It takes away from the story quite a lot especially when these awkward edits happened during the game’s final chapter which is already overly drawn out.
Not to mention Taylor played by Caitlyn Sponheimer is extremely needy and annoying. Often her character came across fake and very much cliche. I really hoped that The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope moved away from creating these irritating one-note characters but alas the game still suffers from including those stereotypical personalities. The fact that I am tasked at keeping these irritating people alive does not help either. I wanted her dead, I did not want to put up with her the whole damn game but at the same time, the game encourages survivability.
Little Hope as a town is fantastic. There’s so much to love about it from its Silent Hill fog that often swoops in separates the group to its eerie forests and buildings. The settings put the repetitive Man of Medan and its tired ghost ship to shame. Not to mention the demons the group face throughout the game are terrifying. One of which carries the wooden stake it was burnt alive at on its back. These demons create some horrific moments in the game and camera work, sound and terrifying town help elevate these scenes above the rest of the game. There’s also the fact that I had to juggle my beating heart, pressing the right buttons at the right time and deal with my cat who was freaking out on my lap all at once. It was fantastic.
Like all Supermassive Games, the story and its outcome depend on the choices you make and the dialogue you decide to go with. Unfortunately, while this is great throughout the game, the experience is ruined at the end when the game just killed off my characters for one stupid line of dialogue I chose in the early parts of the game. I worked so hard to keep them all alive. I mastered every prompt, I tapped that X button so fast when I was crawling away from a demon and I picked up as much lore as possible. However, because I chose to be scared for a moment and asked the group for help during one scene, the demon killed a character at the end. This death was not even because I missed a button press, it was a stupid dialogue option AT THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME.
I won’t lie, this ruined it for me. I was going to replay it a second time to actually get my characters killed and see how it turned out. I thought I unlocked the trophy for finishing the game with everyone alive but it decided to screw me over. In a way, the game forces you to play a certain way and in the end, it ruins the fun of making those bitchy dialogue decisions. It must be one of the most ridiculous game design choices I have ever seen.
Apart from the horrendous ending, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is great fun. The couch co-op movie night mode returns and gives players a reason to play the game with friends and the game’s setting is chilling in all the right ways. I cannot wait to see where the studio goes with next year’s House of Ashes.
This The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope review was based on a code sent to us by Bandai Namco
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 30 October 2020 | Price: R469