First thing’s first. You may be wondering, do I have to play the previous entry, Man of Medan? Or it’s predecessor, Until Dawn?
The good news is, and I can safely assure you – no, they’re all completely separate entries. So you can jump into The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope without any worries that you’ll be unaware of key plot points or characters.
Little Hope’s Brilliant Character Writing & Direction
Speaking of characters, this is one aspect of the game that really excels. The amount of care and consideration that’s gone into the lead actors’ writing, modelling and animations are super detailed and deliberate. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and dynamics between our protagonists. The cast straddling that line of serious, yet campy dialogue near-perfectly. Compelling you to continuously watch these personas in all their glory… And most importantly, survive the night.
The voice-acting is top-notch across the board as well! Albeit, with some slight hiccups here and there, nothing’s perfect. But the overall quality is a true mark of excellent character writing and performance direction. I’d go as far to say, that they’re actually more polished than Until Dawn’s fan-favourite line-up! Controversial, I know!
I’d go as far to say, that they’re actually more polished than Until Dawn’s fan-favourite line-up! Controversial, I know!
Though the manner they’re portrayed in is expertly refined too. The character model designs intuitively sell their respective traits and how they’ll respond or react to certain situations. And the way that their inner thoughts and feelings are visibly apparent in their facial expressions, subtle eye movements, or even in the slightest shrug of the shoulders are super hi-quality and painstakingly well-constructed here.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this a real-life, A-Class horror film. It’s that good!
What’s The Dark Picture’s Anthology: Little Hope’s Story About?
So, what’s The Dark Picture’s Anthology: Little Hope all about? Well, the story follows a group of 4 college students and their professor. As they’re involved in a major bus crash right outside the abandoned New England town of Little Hope. To make matters worse, the town once had a history of witch trials and underhanded corruption. Making it the home of a strange, supernatural evil in today’s era and covering it in thick, inescapable fog…
The group must then piece together the history of the town and the source of said evil. If they wish to survive Little Hope.
Since this is a heavily story-driven, cinematic experience, I won’t go into plot specifics or show any visual spoilers. But what I can say is that the game’s events will have you hooked, right till the end. The same level of class that went into the characters is present here as well. And once you complete the story, you’ll be itching to go back and experience all the branching paths this game has to offer. It really took hold of me from start to finish, pacing itself out with masterful precision.
Scary Scares & Presentation
If you’ve played Until Dawn or Man of Medan before, then the survival horror and thrills will all feel very familiar. I know what to expect from these games now. So the jump-scares and the series general horror approach don’t always catch me off-guard.
Although a few of the scares are quite unique in their design and did get to me from time-to-time. Plus there are some real palm-sweating moments. Especially in the more intense scenes, because you don’t want any of these characters to go early.
There are some real palm-sweating moments. Especially in the more intense scenes, because you don’t want any of these characters to go early.
Big props to the overall ambience for its foggy, Silent Hill 2-like atmosphere.
The lack of visibility creates this constant sense of dread about what’s around the corner. Having you question who or what that strange apparition in the distance is.
Serving a story function and gameplay purpose at the same time. That purpose being, so you don’t wander outside the game’s boundaries…
Just quickly, for those who are new to the franchise… The Dark Pictures series has you controlling all the central characters along your journey. Collecting items that offer hints or lore information, taking part in QTE events (don’t worry they’re well done here) and choosing statements in dialogue trees which affect your relationships with the rest of the playable cast. All these elements matter in deciding who lives or dies, but don’t stress yourself out too much. Since you won’t find a game-over screen or score-ranking system to speak of. Play as good or bad as you possibly can! It’s up to you.
Since you won’t find a game-over screen or score-ranking system to speak of. Play as good or bad as you possibly can! It’s up to you.
One persistent issue I’ve had with Until Dawn, the previous title and now The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, has been the premonition hint system. For those who don’t know, they’re basically just short clips that highlight possible bad outcomes for the protagonists. My only issue is that, when they show certain characters being killed, their face is so zoomed in on the camera that you’ll have no idea what to look for or even when they take place. Pretty much defeating its own purpose.
That being said, they will help out once in a while though.
Differences Between Little Hope & Man of Medan
In comparison to Man of Medan, there haven’t been any major gameplay additions. Besides a local pass-the-controller option when you switch characters, and a 2-player online co-op mode.
Though a couple of quality-of-life enhancements I noticed included the ability to swing the camera around 360 degrees. Another being how QTE events will now alert you before they actually start happening… Definitely a massive improvement over Man of Medan.
QTE events will now alert you before they actually start happening… Definitely a massive improvement over Man of Medan.
Also, some of the transitions from certain dialogue choices in Man of Medan had some noticeably… awkward transitions. There’d occasionally be some rather odd reactions or dialogue from the cast. Or the lighting at times wouldn’t be fully congruent between scenes. Thankfully, Little Hope rectifies this with a lot more fluid, harmonious transitions for a more seamless, uniform experience.
Now, all things considered, is The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope worth picking up? That’d be a resounding yes! This title offers such an authentic, film-inspired horror experience that really demands your attention. Whether it be the engaging story and characters, tense heart-pounding moments or the gorgeous presentation and atmosphere.
This is one thrilling title that should not be missed!
Check Episode 43 of our podcast when available, for our extended thoughts on The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope!
Review by Anthony Culinas
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Bandai Namco. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.