The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope (PlayStation 4) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 07.01.2021

Review for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on PlayStation 4

Supermassive games, developers of Until Dawn and the previous entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology Man of Medan, are quite prolific in the world of horror games. They specifically specialize in interactive dramas, along the lines of David Cage games, but trying to spook players instead of presenting a winding political narrative. The games they create are typically well liked but not held in the highest of high regards due to some jank or people not gelling with characters. Now here is Little Hope, and can it elevate Supermassive to the top?

It's dark, dank and foggy. The way forward is blocked and traffic is being diverted through the town of Little Hope. The bus driver is acting weird and partway down the road manages to flip the bus, totalling it. Suddenly, the scene is cut, and the location is now a nice big house, one filled to the brim with a relatively dysfunctional family all bouncing off each other with rising tensions. Something's up with the little sister. Then, just as fast, the house is burning, and player choice begins presenting itself as it will continue for the rest of the adventure. The scene is super intense, violent and surprising. Next, the game introduces the main cast, who are spookily exact doppelgangers of the family who were just seen dying. There is an overwhelming unease in the atmosphere. From here, the story goes on to surprising moment after surprising moment. It's genuinely scary at times and focuses more on supernatural spookiness than shock horror. That said, it has a lot of jumpscares just before important reveals.

As with Man of Medan, each important story beat is punctuated by a visit from the curator. He's a charismatic character who informs players of what sort of path their choices are taking them on. It's a unique choice to have this character judging and helping with choice making. His performance is also the best in the game as he is full of character and permeates with mystery. It is similar, perhaps, to the psychiatrist in Until Dawn or Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Having a character who frames the story, gives context and challenges player decision making. Overall it's a nice touch that benefits the story and presentation.

Screenshot for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on PlayStation 4

Control plays a big part in a narrative adventure, and this game falls into a few tropes of the genre. Most notably, character movement can be affected by camera cuts. Supermassive has done their best to negate this by allowing for the analogue stick to be continually held in one direction, so after the scene cuts, the character will continue moving forward without re-adjusting. It's not a deal breaker at all, and is only during exploratory scenes so it will never lead to death. Another staple of this style of interactive drama is the obligatory and frequent quick time events. Surprisingly, Little Hope gives a lot of leeway in these events allowing for several misclicks without failure, but naturally they can lead to characters carrying injuries for the rest of the playthrough making them more vulnerable.

Choice is the name of the game in The Dark Pictures. This title has so many paths and convergences that its narrative can often be confusing. This could have been a downside, but the narrative is genuinely weaved in a way where it should be ambiguous right up to the final twist. There are so many choices with such a variety of outcomes, it is worth playing through the game multiple times and seeing how things could have gone had different choices been made. Naturally, this also means there are several endings to be reached. Now, the game doesn't let the player go in 100% blind. It has hidden "picture" collectables that give players, when found, a little flash forward to a future outcome or event that they should avoid or partake in. These are important for unravelling the plot so exploring each area is advisable, this also aids the game's overall length.

Screenshot for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on PlayStation 4

The visual design is incredibly strong with a tenable atmosphere. There's thick unrelenting fog, and volumetric light shafts piercing through from streetlights or the moon to hide the surrounding trees and buildings. This keeps the character's surroundings shrouded in darkness and mystery, feeding the deep set dread even further. One level takes place in a graveyard and it has the most natural looking environment design. It's genuinely impressive how good the areas and effects work is.

However, the character rendering is a very mixed bag. A lot of their texture work can come off as flat during close up scenes and the animation work means there are a lot of scenes where characters snap in and out of movement unnaturally, or the game is loading something so a character awkwardly waits for that before they start performing the next scene. It's not bad, but it's distracting sometimes. The detail on characters is still impressive, with lots of facial expression and natural lighting that binds them to the scenes it can look wildly realistic.

Screenshot for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on PlayStation 4

Sound design is also of a great quality. All the ambient sounds are there to disorient and unnerve players, and the music highlights important scenes and feeds the action. The main star is the voice work. It can be hammy of course, but the actors put in an amazing performance for the most part. They make the characters feel alive and like the choices made are really affecting them. They even do a pretty good job of mimicking old timey english accents for the flashback scenes. It's really impressive stuff!

There are not too many things that stand out as negative but to highlight them, the load times can be very long at times which can affect the will to retry scenes. It's not as bad as Until Dawn's original load times but it's sometimes just a bit suspect. During the review process, there was one crash to the Playstation menu but upon reloading it didn't re-occur. Finally, it's a very short game coming in at around 4 hours. This isn't a problem, as it's a nice complete story arc that doesn't overstay its welcome, but it almost feels over too fast; especially with the price point of the game, that while lower than bigger games, is still quite high if only played through once.

Screenshot for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Little Hope is a fantastic horror experience that really shows what Supermassive can do with the Dark Pictures series. Though it's a short experience and it exhibited a crash during review, it's a fantastically crafted thrilling drama with amazing characters who are genuinely fun to interact with. If this kind of game is something that seems interesting, don't pass up on this experience!

Developer

SuperMassive Games

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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