Supermassive Games rose to fame with PS4 exclusive Until Dawn. Their subsequent projects have all focused on cinematic story-telling games, however, none of them have been as successful as Until Dawn. The Dark Pictures Anthology was another attempt by Supermassive Games to capitalize on the success of Until Dawn. It is an anthology series with each story offering a completely different setup and characters. The common aspects that bind them together are the focus on co-op and survival horror elements.
Just like Man of Medan, Little Hope offers multiple playable characters that are either controlled by a single player, or through online multiplayer by a partner. In this case, there are five characters in the game that can meet their fate depending on the choices picked by the player during the course of the game. As I absolutely adore the horror genre, Little Hope was something of fresh air compared to the claustrophobic atmosphere present in Man of Medan. The setting this time is a small town called New England which is a step up from the ghost ship featured in Man of Medan.
Little Hope kicks off with a brilliant prologue that sets up the basic theme while introducing the players to the new location. There are a lot of underlying themes in this game that might require another playthrough to better understand them. The layered structure story works out well for the co-op which makes every replay of the game fun to experience with a partner. It is not a long game by any means and can take just 5 hours to beat it the first time around.
Most of the gameplay revolves around quick-time events but there are plenty of moments where the player has a chance to explore their surrounding. This helps establish the general atmosphere with clues giving insight into some of the story beats. While the story is self-contained, meaning you don’t need to play Man of Medan to understand it, the only narrative connection is with The Curator. Players might remember him as the Librarian who narrates the story of the game and he has reprised his role again. It makes The Dark Pictures feel more like an interactive TV show which is a neat touch.
Little Hope suffers from the same fate as Man of Medan with its multiple characters lacking any proper development. It is a bit hard to feel attached to the characters and thus care about their fate. The game also suffers from a slow pace with more time spent in exploration and cutscenes with branching dialogue for characters. There are collectibles hidden throughout every location with clues to warn the player if they are not able to find all of them.
It is a bit hard to avoid story spoilers when talking about a game that relies on story-telling as the main source of gameplay. In the case of Little Hope, the town of New England has a dark history with ties to witchcraft that take the central theme in the story. It is covered in a thick white fog that stops the group of four students along with their professor from leaving this eerie location. I enjoyed how the game attempted to tie the events in the past with the present without delving into spoilers, it is a satisfying narrative element that makes the experience worthwhile.
There is a Curator’s Cut available as one of the options in the game. I wasn’t able to complete the story while playing through it but this apparently leads to different cutscenes. It could add further replay value to the game, however to me, the best part is the co-op which is seamlessly integrated into Little Hope.
This co-op allows two different players to go through the game together role-playing the different characters. The fun element here is that they also control the fate of their characters. Just like it was in Man of Medan, there are multiple endings for Little Hope. The endings change depending on the player’s choice and just like Man of Medan, it is possible to save all characters or get them killed leading to an early end.
Supermassive Games has shown its capabilities in The Dark Pictures Anthology. They clearly have the technical capability and experience to take the story-telling games in a new direction. They just need to be given a good budget with plenty of time to fine-tune the gameplay. In the case of this Anthology, they are clearly restricted by tight budgets and deadlines. However, the fact that they are still incredibly fun to play is a testament to their quality.
Dark Pictures: Little Hope Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, also known simply as Little Hope, is an interactive drama survival horror video game developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.
Final Score - 7.5/10
The Dark Pictures: Little Hope is a satisfying follow-up to Man of Medan. It capitalizes on its co-op focus to elevate its standard story-telling into something special.