The Dark Pictures Anthology has arrived at it’s Season 1 finale, removing all of the supernatural elements of the previous three games in an attempt to establish a more realistic approach to horror. Appropriately named The Devil in Me, which focuses on a film crew covering the main hub of America’s first-ever recorded serial killer. This latest entry has added in some extra gameplay features and a noticeably grounded feel to the storytelling this time around as well.
The World’s Not-So-Fair Hotel
Setting the horror in a modern-day replica of H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle really amps up the tension. The intimate, ever-changing hotel hosts some of the most nerve-racking moments in the series yet, and it does this all without relying too much on QTEs. Instead, players have to manually hide or take notice of the sound and their surroundings to escape unscathed. It’s still very cutscene heavy, but there’s more focus on players physically moving around and solving lite environmental puzzles akin to Resident Evil here. Along with some added climbing mechanics and an inventory management system of sorts.
Erin, the film crew’s sound engineer needs an asthma pump to get by, while another character named Mark can take photos at any time the player is control. These new aspects may sound interesting on paper but they aren’t that engaging, because they’re not used often or come across as vapid at best. At one point, I had completely forgotten that the main protagonist, Kate had a pencil on hand, which lead to me fumbling around for 20 minutes as the answer sat right in front of my face.
It’s also a bit disappointing that the 3 lives system The Quarry introduced is absent in The Devil in Me, especially since some deaths are exceedingly difficult to anticipate without using a guide. In a similar vein, once players complete certain puzzles, the game will automatically shift over to the next section, robbing them of the chance to explore and find collectables in that area. Just be aware of this before you solve any puzzles, as the game might move on prematurely.
The Edge of One’s Seat
Character faces can still look a little awkward though, particularly in the way their eyes move. Albeit, they’re not as bad as Ashley’s Tisdale’s duck-face from House of Ashes… That was pure nightmare fuel there. However, the general dialogue and acting feels a lot more down to earth in The Devil in Me, with some standout performances from each of the cast members. This makes it markedly easier to become attached to the protagonists, as the tension escalates between the core group and the growing threat that rises within.
The in-game replica of H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle is spectacular too, right down to the wallpaper and furnishings of the infamous hotel. Each twist and turn of it’s tight corridors can really throw you off, making you feel constantly on edge as the night progresses. “What’s that noise I’m hearing?” or “I swear there was a wall here last time!” are phrases I internally repeated throughout. Compared to the dank and dull caves in House of Ashes, this entry is miles more immersive than it’s predecessor. The SAW parallels are here somewhat, although they’re reserved for the latter half of the game. So don’t anticipate a trap-infested bloodbath of grisly proportions, otherwise you’ll be left severely disappointed.
The season 1 finale of The Dark Pictures Anthology went off with a bang. The Devil in Me strips back the supernatural themes of previous entries and zeroes in on an enticing tale inspired by America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes. The character roster might feel cliche at first, but they will grow on you as the acting and direction of the story further develop. The newly added mechanics are a bit of a mixed bag, although The Devil in Me does hand control to the player more than ever before, which definitely works to it’s benefit. There are some genuinely spooky moments too where my hands were sweating, itching to discover what was lurking behind the claustrophobic corridors and crevices of the infamous Murder Castle. Just don’t expect this game to be a SAW-inspired death trap fiesta.
The Devil in Me is a rock-solid entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology. Featuring some tense scenes of fear and paranoia, a disorienting dynamic mansion and a serial killer on the loose for good measure. Along with the series staple QTEs and dialogue wheel options, players will have to make use of a new hiding mechanic and participate in some lite inventory management and puzzle solving. While not all of these additions are worth writing home about, it all culminates in an engrossing narrative and characters that you’ll grow to care for throughout the ordeal.
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