If you’ve read my review of the prior title in this anthology series (The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan), then buckle up for a very similar review. Developers Supermassive Games certainly hasn’t bucked the trend here, and for good reason – if it ain’t broke…
Little Hope is a story-based interactive horror movie, which Supermassive has come to be well known for. Playing out like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel in video game format, players take control of one of a number of key characters, guiding them and interacting with various items in the environment in order to progress the narrative.
Every so often, the player is given a choice between one of two or three actions. These could be a response to a particular conversation, or something more active, but regardless, the decision the player takes has a flow-on effect within the narrative at large. This will either change the character’s personality traits, or their relationship with another character, or – on a few occasions – take the story in a different direction.
The Dark Pictures: Little Hope Review
In Little Hope, there are several story threads being told – a grand tale of witch trials back in the 17th Century, an unfortunate series of events that lead to the deaths of a foster family in the 1970s (which kicks off the game), and the core storyline, set in modern times. Here, the characters are taking a bus trip through the night, only to be forced to take a detour through Little Hope. On the way there, the bus swerves to avoid an animal that runs out in front of it, rolling and leading to the 5 passengers being ejected – the bus driver suspiciously absent.
From here, the passengers look to find a safe way out of the situation, but the forest seems to have other plans. A deep, thick fog sets in (not unlike another great horror title, Silent Hill), allowing them only to progress into town. From here, the horrific elements kick off relatively quickly… and ends with a surprising twist – which may or may not be surprising if players are paying attention.
Being a horror story, it plays out as one would expect. The characters disagree on certain points and split off in different directions. They make strange decisions that may seem unnatural, and they argue and bicker, eventually to be taken out one by one. Unless the player can prevent this, of course.
As this is part of The Dark Pictures Anthology series, the curator – originally seen in Man of Medan – makes his return here. Again, he acts not so much as the narrator, but more as a guide, appearing intermittently to provide tips and let you know how you are going. This really helps to cement the “Choose Your Own Adventure” aspect, as the story is at no point ever said to be true, only that it was… incomplete.
From a narrative perspective, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, the dialogue was somewhat questionable at times, with awkward and unnatural conversation and responses that occasionally made me wonder what the writer was thinking. But on the other hand, the story itself is quite intricate, and the setting far more in line with what I hope for from my horror (at least when compared to Man of Medan). Overall, I’d suggest the writing is great, but I still question some dialogue choices.
Given Supermassive chose not to reinvent the wheel, the control issues existent in the previous title still exist here – confusing camera positioning, forced directional changes, slow movement, and clunky, poorly introduced Quick Time Events lead to occasional frustration, but in the tradition of horror titles past, also tend to increase the tension to a certain degree. In a nod back to the roots of Supermassive’s success, the characters under player control each hold a torch, which can be controlled independently of player movement, which is fun… but also clunky and confusing at times. Still, it’s a nice throwback to Until Dawn.
The “Hill” is Silent
Again, Little Hope is short as compared to Until Dawn, but again, it feels better in context of the Anthology series, and also makes sense in terms of the multiplayer options. I would expect that a lengthy title that needs to be played out over multiple nights is not as much of a draw as compared to a short 4-hour adventure that can be played out in a single session, passing the controller between players (which the team refers to as “Movie Night”). There are plenty of collectibles to find, and a story that won’t make complete sense on a single playthrough, and so it encourages multiple attempts.
Compared to Man of Medan, Little Hope is a better title in terms of the story being told – it’s more relatable, and feels a lot more like a true horror title, at least, that’s how it feels to me. Apart from that, though, they play very similarly, and if you enjoy this kind of title, comes highly recommended. Once again, I look forward to what’s next in the series!
The Dark Pictures: Little Hope was reviewed on PS4 using digital code provided by the publisher.