The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope Xbox One X Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Horror
 
Rating: MA15+
 
Release Date: 30/10/2020
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4/5


User Rating
1 total rating

 

Positives


- Mechanical and accessibility improvements are great
- Cast are likable and relatable
- Location and Sound Design set the tone perfectly
- Story is interesting and choices matter both short and long term

Negatives


- Controls in exploration still feel clunky
- Fixed camera angles can sometimes make it difficult to discern progression points


Posted November 1, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Supermassive Games has quickly become one of my favourite developers of the last few years. Coming off the back of several smaller and lesser known titles, they introduced themselves as masters of campy horror with Until Dawn, but harmed that claim slightly with the first chapter of the Dark Picture’s Anthology, Man of Medan. Now, that reputation has been restored with the release of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on Xbox One X, a suspenseful horror adventure that improves on Man of Medan in almost every way.

The game largely takes place in the titular town of Little Hope, after a bus carrying a small group of college students and their professor crashes on the outskirts of the town. A menacing fog quickly rolls in, which forces the group to trek towards the heart of the town in search for help. Along with the fog comes supernatural occurrences and sinister forces seemingly hell bent on your destruction. I won’t go into any more detail on the story, as there’s too much risk of spoiling the story, but I will say that my decisions in the game definitely felt impactful as I progressed. Not every choice had an immediate impact to the game, and I found myself connecting the dots between later occurrences and earlier choices I had made.

Compared to Man of Medan, Little Hope’s environments does a much better job of creating a terrifying atmosphere. While the claustrophobic confines of the ship went some way to setting the tone, I found that they felt somewhat too generic to truly build the atmosphere. Little Hope also uses linear segments as part of its story telling, but even in  those restrictive segments you still know you’re within a house in the town or following a path in the forest. You know that things could come at you from any direction and that really helps build the suspense.

It also allows for the sound design to set in more. Twigs snapping in the distance or a house groaning are more relatable sounds than a ship creaking, and so they illicit panic and fear much more easily. Absence of sound is also used incredibly well, with an eerie silence often being used to heighten tension. The games voice acting goes a long way here as well, with most of the game’s voice acting being pretty fantastic; especially Will Poulter’s performance as Andrew. There are still some slip ups, especially early on where Daniel’s voice doesn’t seem to match the tone of the scene, but that’s definitely in the minority.

What really sets Little Hope apart of Man of Medan though, it its characters. Coming out of Man of Medan, I didn’t particularly care what happened to my characters, because none of them felt particularly likeable. You always have that one douchebag in a horror film, but in Man of Medan it felt like they were almost the entire cast. In Little Hope, all of the characters are relatable and endearing in some form. That isn’t to say they’re perfect, as all of the characters also have flaws to their personality which helps them feel like real people. Daniel is a bit too rash in his decision making, but does his best to help those around him, while John is quick to assert his authority over others, but is genuinely doing his best to protect everyone. It all comes together to create a cast that you want to try and keep alive.

Little Hope comes with a number of mechanical improvements that significantly improve the gameplay experience compared to Man of Medan. There are now short, on-screen warnings before quick time events begin, giving you a moment to prepare yourself. Narrative choices now have different visual representations, making it clear which may have an immediate impact as opposed to being relationship or character defining choices. Transitions between gameplay and narrative are also much smoother now, without the stilted quick cuts in the game. There’s also a raft of accessibility options, such as holding a button to complete an action (as opposed to rapid tapping), turning off the QTE timer so you can take as long as needed and dyslexic fonts, amongst many more.

While there are plenty of mechanical improvements, there are still some frustrations that come through. While the walking speed has been increased in the game, the actually act of movement still fees unresponsive and sluggish. Camera cuts were also a point of frustration, with quick cuts to different angles often causing me to accidentally veer in the wrong direction. Set camera angles also made it hard to discern where to go next at some points, with a path being nearly indistinguishable on at least one occasion.

Overall, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on Xbox One X is a fantastic improvement on Man of Medan, although it still falls somewhat short of the utterly amazing Until Dawn. The raft of mechanical improvements and significantly improved cast of characters and setting go a long way to making this a must play game, although there are still enough annoyances to pull it down. If you’re looking for a new horror adventure to play, then Little Hope is for you.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope was reviewed on an Xbox One X, with a review copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC and PS4. For more information, check the official website.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.