While we’re truly in spooky season right now, for the first time since the series debuted, the next installment of The Dark Pictures won’t arrive in time for Halloween. Supermassive Games is instead set to launch The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me on November 18th, and with less than a month before the game arrives, we had a chance to try it once more, to get a taste of what this title is all about. horror will offer.
First off, let me say that if you’ve played any title of The Dark Pictures before, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what The Devil in Me is like. We have a cast of interesting and unique individuals, with many portraits and brought to life by some familiar faces from movies and TV, including Jessie Buckley, Paul Kaye and of course Pip Torrens as The Curator once again. To add to this, the gameplay asks you to piece together a mystery, as you survive some sort of terrifying and seemingly supernatural horror, all while making choices with the quick-time event system that determines and influences the story and its outcomes. . It’s very familiar, but thanks to a new crew of characters, a new setting, and a new story, it looks cool enough to entertain.
This preview build that I had the opportunity to explore allowed me to immerse myself in over an hour of gameplay, picking up from the end of the first act, and here we see the characters arriving at the modernized version of the serial killer, HH Holmes’ Murder Castle . The crew arrived at this immediately creepy and foreshadowed building to shoot a documentary revolving around the 19th century killer, and within minutes of wandering and settling in, it becomes very, very clear that there is something desperately wrong with the house. As for what it is, after a few jump scares and spooky moments seeing a character in immediate danger, we come across this title’s main antagonist: a Holmes-inspired killer.
We don’t see much else about the killer from this preview build, but we have an idea of the way it operates, which is different from the bloodthirsty creatures of House of Ashes, as this is more of a psychological villain that uses fear to take down its victims before delivering a killing blow. This could include trapping them in closed, dark rooms, scaring them off with chilling animatronics, or even forcing them into Saw-like situations, where they have to decide between causing harm to someone else or being hurt themselves.
During my time with the game, I was never truly terrified or overwhelmed with fear, even though an occasional jump scare increased my heart rate. Rather, I was more intrigued by the story and motives behind the killer. It almost felt like I was watching a documentary about a serial killer in a way, as I didn’t really connect with the primal fear that the cast / victims were conveying, and instead I was more interested in piecing together the mystery at the heart of the narrative. . But that’s not to say there weren’t some seriously disturbing moments.
Between facing the killer and having to make split second decisions, all wandering the hallways of the manor house during a power outage while hearing faint cries in the distance and the creaking of the house’s walls and floors, the atmosphere is very impressive. And it’s reinforced by what each character can bring to the table. For example, Erin, the crew’s sound engineer, can use a directional microphone to pick up audio through walls, which means you can hear other cast members talking several rooms away, or more likely following creepy sounds. which often lead to premonitions about a character’s future. It can be weird at times, but never as scary as you’d hope it would be a story-heavy horror experience like this.
While the horror elements have yet to blow my mind, one part of The Devil in Me that is very impressive is the way the characters are presented. They are incredibly detailed figures, which come to life from brilliant performances by each respective actor. The animations are top notch and the graphics are on a similar level, although Supermassive has not yet figured out how the eyes are portrayed on a character, as they always look spacious and unusual. Of course, this is a preview build, so there’s still plenty of time for Supermassive to iron out any remaining issues, including this and other remaining bugs (I also ran into a weird persistent audio bug and a short invisible character model ).
While the characters are shaping up to be great, I’ll say the exploration and movement left something to be desired. Gameplay and pacing are generally stable, as expected, and while this often fits the mood, during the environmental puzzle sections, you can’t help but want the characters to move a bit forward. A slightly faster pace would significantly help compensate for the slow feeling of movement that is clearly present.
But in general, aside from a new narrative to chew and separate, and a new cast of characters to connect with, The Devil in Me looks very similar to previous The Dark Pictures games, for better or for worse. I can’t wait to experience the full story, to see how the cast escapes the horrors of the Castle of Murder and what drives this creepy new killer, but I can’t say I’m blown away by what I’ve seen so far from a horror perspective.