The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Review (PS5)

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Review: Tense Trepidation

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me Review banner

 

I’m a huge horror buff and enjoy consuming spooky content across multiple mediums, including books, podcasts, movies, and especially video games. I look forward to the next entry in Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology every year, after appreciating the stories told in Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes (our review). Their newest installment, titled The Devil In Me, serves as the finale to the season one tetralogy, and is probably the most phenomenal one yet. The Devil In Me introduces novel gameplay additions such as character-specific abilities and improved exploration. It also strays away from a traditional and stereotypical supernatural premise, instead opting for one inspired by real-life con artist and serial killer Henry Howard Holmes.

H.H. Holmes is often deemed America’s first serial killer, and was prolific in the late 1800s after inviting unwary guests to his hotel with the intent to murder them. Those who are into true crime documentaries or have read The Devil In The White City are probably very familiar with the works of Holmes and are sure to enjoy this modern narrative inspired by him. The Devil In Me sets the scene with a prologue that takes you back in time and puts you in the shoes of a young couple unknowingly sealing their fate in Holme’s infamous murder castle. Fast forward to the present, where a failing film crew known as Lonnit Entertainment is filming a documentary in a modern-day murder hotel on an isolated island, hoping to save their show. Little do they know that they were led straight into a sadistic trap set up by the host, Mr. Du’Met, who has taken an unhealthy obsession with the late Holmes. Without spoiling too much of the narrative, just think of the claustrophobic environments set up by The Shining combined with the gruesome traps found in Saw

 

Killer World Building & Expanded Gameplay

  The Devil In Me Review Cast

 

As previously mentioned, The Devil In Me introduces unique little quirks that are tied to each specific character, which as a result, changes up the gameplay. Kate Wilder, investigative journalist, host of the show, and played by the magnificent Jessie Buckley, has access to a pencil that can uncover secret messages on notepads and papers. On the other hand, Erin Keegan, the newest intern voiced by the exceptional Nikki Patel, must use an inhaler to calm her asthma attacks in stressful situations. Every character has their own items and abilities that they can use to explore areas or discover items unreachable by others. This is a game changer, considering you can be completely locked out of scenarios if certain characters die or live. Exploration and going off the beaten path are also encouraged with multiple nonlinear paths that lead to collectibles and lore-setting artifacts. This also brings along the dreaded “fake loading screens” of shimmying across a ledge, squeezing through a crack, or crawling in a tunnel. I personally don’t mind any of it as it paces out the game, but it’s worth a mention for those that do. If you were wondering if quick time events make a return, the answer is yes.

Supermassive Games does an immaculate job setting up an environment that bleeds tension and psychological horror. The use of audio magic and lighting techniques sets up a stressful mood, especially with the camera angle panning in a direction that lets you know you are being watched in every step you take. There are, of course, some classic jump scares thrown in for good measure, but the overall feeling of claustrophobia and unease is what drives the horror home. When it comes to the actual deaths themselves, the developers have also outdone themselves in terms of creativity and gruesomeness. There were plenty of times that these traps had me on the edge of my seat. It’s equally as terrifying to be forced to choose who lives and who dies. There must be a different way, right?

 

Characters To Die For

 

 

Characters are multidimensional and dynamic, each with their own backstories and personalities. Not everyone gets along in the beginning, with some even turning their backs on each other in times of danger. This obviously depends on the decisions you make as a player, but there are some predispositions set. Managing the characters’ relationships on top of figuring out how to stay alive adds more depth to the gameplay. The acting and voiceovers are done splendidly, with excellent performances that result in a natural and cohesive experience. Even though there was minimal context regarding the motivations of each member of Lonnit Entertainment, I was still able to see complex character development in each and every one of them in my roughly 7-hour playthrough. Charlie, the director, for example, was able to overcome his addiction to cigarettes by the end, which made me chuckle. It’s a small detail, but one that goes a long way in terms of relatability. I’ll leave the rest for you to discover for yourself.

Like every other project from Supermassive Games, all the characters can live or die. Their very fate lies in the palm of your hands. The game encourages you to explore different dialogue options and actions, as each choice has a consequence. Are you sadistic and want to see the gruesome death of each crew member, or are you one to save all of them? The endless web of possibilities warrants multiple playthroughs, plus even more with the included Movie Night couch co-op mode, online multiplayer mode, and the Curator’s Cut. The Devil In Me is also the longest game yet in The Dark Pictures Anthology, so all you horror fans can expect tons of playtime. It’s a shame the game wasn’t ready for release by Halloween, but it’s always spooky season for someone like me.

 

Curator’s Cut Got Cut…

 

 

It’s apparent that The Dark Pictures Anthology series has not gotten the love and budget that Until Dawn did, as technical shortcomings and bugs seem to be apparent in every release. While performance was mostly competent on PlayStation 5, I did run into some weird stutters, among other issues that took away from the overall immersion. Load times are undoubtedly fast thanks to the PS5’s SSD, but random loading screens would appear in the middle of a cutscene or gameplay segment as if the previous load was not complete. This happened multiple times throughout my entire playthrough and became something of a norm by the end of it. The game offers a quality mode that runs at 30 fps and a performance mode that runs at 60 fps. I still recommend going with the higher frame rate mode despite this game not being very action-focused. The biggest bug that I ran into is probably Curator’s Cut not unlocking and PlayStation trophies not popping after finishing the story. Those who are familiar with the series know that Curator’s Cut is essentially a bonus mode that features new scenes, and not being able to access it is a huge downer. Here’s to hoping a Day One patch fixes this.

 

Conclusion

 

 

Supermassive Games successfully concludes the first season of The Dark Pictures Anthology on a thundering note. Powerful performances from a diverse cast of characters and an extremely interesting premise based off of real-life serial killer H.H. Holmes allows The Devil In Me to outshine its predecessors in just about every way. Sure it’s got nothing to do with the supernatural, but a Saw-inspired murder house with a twisted mastermind behind it does more than enough to induce fear and tension.


Final Verdict: 4/5

Available on: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PS4, PS5 (Reviewed); Publisher: Bandai Namco; Developer: Supermassive Games; Players: 1-5; Released: Nov 18, 2022; ESRB: M; MSRP: $39.99 USD

Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me provided by the publisher.

Henry Yu
Soulsborne & horror fanatic with a dash of JRPG’s sprinkled in.

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