Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope- A Scary Good Time
My relationship with horror went from a curious infatuation to all-out head-over-heels love when I was ten years old. This occurred when my brother and I got our hands on a copy of Silent Hill 2. We spent an entire weekend passing the controller back and forth playing the new game. We laughed, screamed, and tried to figure out puzzles until the final credits rolled. We became addicted. We would scour our local rental store for any new horror games, seeking the same high we got from our first hit of horror gaming. Fast forward twenty years and the world has changed. The Pandemic has turned the idea of playing a video game in person with someone else into an actual horror scenario. There is Twitch and other streaming services but honestly, I just want to sit down and play a scary video game with my brother. Enter The Dark Pictures Anthology and Little Hope.
For those not familiar, the Dark Pictures Anthology is the spiritual successor to the Supermassive Games’ 2015 hit game Until Dawn. The Dark Pictures games follow a similar setup as their progenitor centering the plot on a group of playable characters in a creepy situation with frequent narrative breaks by a curious psychiatrist speaking directly to the player. The Dark Pictures games replace Until Dawn’s Psychiatrist with a recurring character only known as “the Curator” (Pip Torrens). Much to my delight, Supermassive included a cooperative multiplayer that can be played over the internet or on the couch. The Dark Pictures Anthology consists of eight games and is on schedule to release a new game each year. The first game Man of Medan came out in 2019 and the third installment House of Ashes is set to release in 2021. The focus of this review is on their latest release: Little Hope.
Little Hope centers on five characters who find themselves stranded in a suspiciously empty, small town somewhere in New England after their bus crashes. The group consists of four college students and their inept professor. As the group enters the town they are frequently ambushed by a little girl who grabs hold of them. The ghostly grasp of the girl violently shakes the characters and gives them visions of events that took place in the town four hundred years prior. The visions reveal the history of the town as it plummets into a bloody witch-hunt.
At the center of the hunt is the little girl, a fiery priest, and a poppet. Complicating matters even more, each character has a doppelganger from the past in their visions. The protagonists must delve further into the town and its violent past to save their own historic personas and possibly change history.
Little Hope takes a while to get going. There were several times in the first half of the game with extended cut scenes that the developers could have added some interactions. A cinematic shot of a character climbing into a window could have been more interactive if I had to hold down a button while the character climbs into the window. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching horror movies, but I like my games to be a little bit more hands-on.
Further, Supermassive made the difficulty of the quick time events (QTEs) way too easy. Whereas, I had trouble keeping characters alive in Until Dawn and Man of Medan, I never felt threatened by a QTE in Little Hope. I certainly do not want the game to be too difficult but I think there is a middle ground that I hope Supermassive can find for House of Ashes.
Lastly, I thought the plot was stale, especially in comparison to Until Dawn and Man of Medan (both of which were co-written by Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick). The previous two games were full of twists and mystery. With the exception of the finale, Little Hope is a straightforward haunting tale.
The greatest attribute in Little Hope is its re-playability factor. The game is short (clocking in about five hours) which would normally make me shy away from a $30 price tag, but knowing that I will replay the game multiple times makes it worth it to me. The game is full of various decisions and speech options that on a second, third, or even fourth play through feels different enough that it is still fun.
Look, is Little Hope the greatest game of all time? No. Do I think it will revolutionize gaming, as we know it? Probably not. It is the video game equivalent of a B-horror movie… and I like B-horror movies. Someone once said, “I like Filet Mignon but sometimes I just want to order a pizza.” So if you are like me and enjoy a cheap scare every once and a while, then order a pizza, grab a drink, and play Little Hope.
Leland Merritt is a PhD student at Claremont School of Theology studying the intersections between Horror and the Hebrew Bible. When he is not studying he is reading, watching, playing, or listening to anything that might scare him. He currently lives in Southern California with his spouse and a ghoul masquerading as a toddler.