Review – The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

I’m a fan of Supermassive Games and have been ever since Until Dawn. While their games don’t always deliver on scares, they’re still an enjoyable experience, for the most part. Rush of Blood is still one of my favorite VR games to date and I wish they would release another title like it. Instead, they seem to be going all-in with their interactive movie styled games with The Dark Pictures Anthology. Man of Medan was their first entry into the series, which I enjoyed quite a bit despite its issues. Now we have The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope, which interested me very much right from the trailer. While there was a lot it did right, it unfortunately wasn’t able to stick the landing.

Little Hope follows four college students and their professor after their bus crashes on the way to a field trip. The crash occurs just outside of the abandoned town of Little Hope. Desperate to find help, they decide to brave the night and venture into the town to try to find a working phone or someone to aid them. Instead, they find a literal ghost town where the dead keep popping up to show our protagonists their horrific tales of wild accusations, conspiracy, and betrayal.

Little Hope

Abandon hope is right.

The tale of Little Hope follows the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials in the late 1600s, albeit in the fictional town of Little Hope. As the group makes it way through the town, they find pieces of history left behind from the previous townsfolk, as well as regular visits from the specters that haunt it still. Throughout the game, our heroes will be taken back in time to the 1600s to see the events that transpired between the original inhabitants of Little Hope. Time hopping is new to the storytelling methods of Supermassive games and one that works very well for this entry.

Little Hope

Little Hope does a good job of portraying the insanity and hysteria surrounding the witch trials.

Overall, I have to say that the story in Little Hope is by far one of the best of any Supermassive titles. It creates a great sense of tension the whole way through, even if it does suffer from all too frequent cheap jump scares like the others. Even the characters feel better fleshed out and more relatable than in previous entries. However, it’s far from perfect. The whole game is greatly hindered by one thing: the ending.

This is going to be really tough to talk about without getting into spoilers, but I’ll do my best. Let’s just say that there’s a revelation at the very end that completely killed the game for me. Not only does it not make any sense whatsoever, but it completely undercuts the events that transpired throughout the rest of the game. The saddest part is that I was actually loving the story and its symbolism up until that point. I went back and replayed both Until Dawn and Man of Medan in order to make different decisions and see the other endings, but I have no desire at all to do the same with Little Hope, despite getting the “good’ ending.

And I thought clowns were creepy.

However, up until then it was a good time. I commend the developers for listening to the feedback from their fans and addressing the gameplay issues that plagued Man of Medan. This is still essentially an interactive movie, but the controls are much better this time around. Your characters walk faster and changing directions doesn’t feel like trying to make a U-turn in a bus. They’ve also added a bit more time to the QTEs, as well as prompts to let you know that one is coming up. That was my biggest complaint with Man of Medan: there were such long stretches of just watching events happen that I would lower my guard and miss the random lightning fast QTEs that would pop up.

I also feel like your choices have more weight in this game. There are quite a few seemingly simple decisions you’ll have to make for your characters along the way, but many of them will have far reaching implications. Just like in the other games, all of your characters can die or survive depending on your choices and successes with the QTEs. Their personalities seem to be more greatly affected by your decisions as well, which was refreshing.

Your decisions have a lot more weight in this game.

Visually, Little Hope looks beautiful… most of the time. They once again used motion capture technology on the actors in order to get realistic looking models and animations. Although, there is one section of the game where the graphics look significantly less polished than the rest: the prologue. I was really worried at first that they had cut corners with the graphics in order to get the game out a year after Man of Medan. The characters looked stiff, plasticky, and almost no emotion was conveyed across their faces. Thankfully, that only seems to be the case for the prologue and the beginning of the first chapter.

Be prepared for excessive amounts of cheap jump scares.

There are still a few other graphical inconsistencies, though. The main characters, set pieces, and monsters look great, but the ghosts are nowhere near the same quality. I know they’re mainly only seen in brief flashes as jump scares, but that just goes to show how poorly designed they are. Little Hope also suffers from the same problem as the other games, where character animations can go wonky whenever they’re not the one speaking. Scenes and perspectives can jump harshly too. I’m guessing this is due to the game’s algorithm trying to keep up with the player’s choices, but it’s still hilarious and jarring at times.

The sound design is pretty good all around. The soundtrack is completely forgettable, but served its purpose. The sound effects on the other hand, are very well done. The creaking of old wooden floorboards, the rustling of bushes along the road, and the crackling of fire all make the game feel alive. The performances are well acted too, aside from the prologue once again. I truly wonder if they ran out of time or money before they could clean up that section. It almost felt tacked on when compared to the rest of the game.

The Curator remains a fascinating enigma.

I’m honestly really frustrated and disappointed with Little Hope. This had the potential to be their best game to date, but due to the direction they chose to take it at the very end, it all fell apart. It’s crazy to think just how much five minutes can kill the whole experience. I will say that the whole game leading up to it is really fun. It has a compelling story with some clever symbolism and metaphors. Plus I’m happy the developers listened to their fans and improved the gameplay. Now let’s hope they listen again and don’t undercut the experience with a cheap reveal at the end next time.

 

Graphics: 7.0

While most of the game looks great, the prologue section looks significantly less polished. The character animations can look bizarre when they’re not speaking as well.

Gameplay: 8.0

Yet another interactive movie style game where the only gameplay is making dialogue choices and QTEs. Some improvements have been made, such as more time during the QTEs and moving the characters is a lot easier.

Sound: 8.0

While the soundtrack is largely forgettable, the game is fairly well acted and the sound effects are convincing.

Fun Factor: 5.0

I was actually really enjoying this game until the last five minutes. The ending absolutely ruined this game and makes no sense whatsoever.

Final Verdict: 6.5

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox Series X.