The series of adventures finally continues Supermassive Games, which after the much appreciated Until Dawn in 2015 (a real leap in quality for the English studio) he brought his works to really excellent standards, up to the ingenious idea of creating an anthological series of small adventures of the same genre. This is the Dark Pictures Anthology, which just over a year ago made its entry into the videogame panorama with Man of Medan. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a series of graphic adventures that make use of the interactive film-like system, where every choice will have consequences - good or bad - in the story of the protagonists, in short, the classic "butterfly effect". The peculiarity of these video games, in addition to the distinctly horror themes and colors that are the studio's trademark, lies in the fact that they are inspired by real world facts, stories and legends, and they are completely unrelated titles. Bandai Namco Entertainment immediately believed in the project, and despite a half "false start" due to the technical problems that Man of Medan suffered at launch, the response from the public was more than satisfactory, especially thanks to the different ways in which it can be approach the game even in company. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope takes the good things done with the game mechanics already tested in recent years, and almost nothing changes in this sense. However, there are many points to be analyzed and which happily make this new game score a truly convincing quality standard.
Little Hope has a historical authenticity that should not be underestimated
Little Hope: Give up all hope
As already mentioned, all the titles that are (and will be) part of the Dark Pictures Anthology are inspired by urban facts or legends. Of course also Little hope, and unlike Man of Medan we are going to tread an already well-known ground, a part of the folklore made in the USA that has more than once been exploited for works of various kinds, from books, to cinema, to video games and much more. : as you already know, this is the witch hunt. The most famous city where such trials and executions were carried out was Salem, however it was not the only one. Little Hope in fact makes use of many references and names inspired by the facts of Andover, Massachusetts, which saw several convictions for witchcraft. Little Hope itself refers to a particular area of the town, making use of a historical authenticity that should not be underestimated. In fact, not only a costume designer directly from the world of cinema collaborated in the game, but also actors able to reproduce the accent and expressions of 1692. Definitely important choices, which combined with the profound research carried out on the period of the 17th century guarantee a noteworthy dive.
A huge tragedy
Don't worry, we are not referring to the game, because by removing the chestnuts from the fire The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is a really good title, who was not too timidly able to outclass his older brother Man of Medan. This is by considering a more intriguing narrative (and also capable of surprising us with a couple of well-placed plot twists), whether you go to analyze the technical sector or some gameplay choices.
There is never a right or wrong choice, only consequences
What are we talking about then? Of a not too happy event, without a doubt, which will be the prologue to the unpleasant adventure of our 5 protagonists. Although this is a scene intended to "give the story", before taking the command of the students and their professor, know that there are some choices that will have really important consequences in the continuation and in the possible ending. One of the most appreciable characteristics of this work is in fact his marked variability, where we take into consideration not only the immediate effect of the choices made, but also theirs repercussions on the personalities of the characters and their relationships… Choices that seem trivial, but which will prove to be so important as to affect the ending itself. Will you act with your head or with your heart? The moral compass is up to you, because there is never a right or wrong choice, only consequences.
Among the performers he stands out clearly Will Poulter, the young actor who plays in Little Hope Andrew and that we saw at work not too long ago also in the interactive Netflix movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Within the title, among the special contents, there is also an interview with the actor. The entire game is fully voiced in Spanish, as well as the translation of all menus and texts in our language. Andrew's voice in our language is none other than that of Renato Novara, a perfect professional for the purpose. In sum, the interpretation of the protagonists, virtual and vocal, was very good, even if in a couple of cases - perhaps due to the lack of images in the dubbing room - the intention seemed slightly "incongruent" to the scene.
Objects and documents are essential to get into the mood
As anticipated at the beginning, it will be possible to face the terror offered by Little Hope totally alone, or in the company of one or more friends. The solo experience is decidedly standard and allows the player to focus on their choices, on the interpretation, and on the clues they can find to understand how it will be best to act. In the abundant 6 hours of play it will be essential to analyze everything we have available, but above all to make sure that the characters themselves are able to survive. For the duration of the adventure, we will also have to take into account the relationship that each will have with the others, and even more than in Man of Medan the traits of their personalities will acquire a fundamental role. Precisely due to their importance and the various implications on which these will affect, we will not go into details, avoiding possible spoilers.
The feature dedicated to “Images” of a possible future, which in Little Hope are in the form of postcards: thanks to these - as has been the case since Until Dawn -, we will see short films on what could happen, whether it is a positive or damn negative event, small tips that could be incredibly useful (and which also includes the one concerning the anticipation of the next game in the anthology). For the entire duration of the adventure, as will now be the practice for each title of the Dark Pictures Anthology, we will be guided by the figure of Curator, a Virgil who, in addition to explaining how to play in the initial stages, will always be present to comment on the events, but also to leave us some pearls of wisdom that could be particularly useful (at our discretion).
… Or in company
The Shared History online gives something more, in every sense
The music changes, and for the better, if you play with friends (and not surprisingly in the list of modes, the "Don't play alone" is the first in order). Playing in company will be possible in two different ways and the really nice thing is that it is two very different experiences. The first is "Evening at the Cinema", practically a multiplayer couch dedicated to players ranging from 2 to 5: in this mode the players will live the whole experience chapter by chapter passing the pad, after choosing at the beginning of the game which characters each player will control. This mode has not undergone too many variations compared to Man of Medan, if not a smaller amount of interludes between one act and another. At the end of each act, each player will be assigned a sort of evaluation, which describes the approach and the qualities that have characterized his "performance". In terms of narrative and scene, this mode does not add anything compared to the single player one.
The real big evolution in multiplayer, however, comes thanks to "Shared History" online. This was also present in Man of Medan, and allowed two players to experience separate scenes in sync (those that took place precisely in the same time frame). However, these scenes were the same ones that, playing solo, we would have played sooner or later anyway. In The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope the Shared Story has undergone a giant change: an incredibly positive turn which will not only make us share the story with a remote friend, but go to add practically new playable scenes which are not present in solo mode! This consequently also includes unpublished dialogues, new choices and new implications. For a complete experience, and to find out “what is happening on the other side”, it is therefore necessary to play this mode as well.
No longer on the high seas
Despite maintaining a balance between joys and pains, Man of Medan came out with broken bones from the comparison with the other works of the studio, especially for the bugs present even after day one and for the mechanics that slowed down the experience not a little. Little Hope was the litmus test, the exam for the English study where it was possible to demonstrate that the public's feedback had been listened to, and that a lot had been learned from the "test" of the previous game. On a technical level, therefore, we are faced with a good job (although there are some small pop up or lip sync problems that will be solved already on day one with a patch), with more than interesting graphic details, an immersive camera game that adapts to heights and settings, more fluid animations especially when walking, and very rare frame drops. But the most important steps forward have been moved towards what concerns the gameplay same: for example, the choice windows during the dialogues have been slightly increased, now able to give us breath and to choose carefully what to answer (as already mentioned, even the single choices on the dialogues can have great consequences) or again, the Quick Time Event who can also be single, they see us warned by a "stamp" that indicates the type of action we are going to perform, all accompanied by greater precision and responsiveness (true cross of the first period of Man of Medan's life).
Big steps forward in all senses, from the technical sector to the gameplay
All in one night
Like any self-respecting horror title, Little Hope makes darkness one of its trump cards. The whole game takes place in the ghost town of the same name, full of history and at the same time of pitfalls, in an atmosphere that is anything but reassuring. The fog, i cold and dull colors, but also the dirt and the improvised sources of lighting, create a truly suggestive picture… even if not at extreme levels. In fact, this adventure manages to disturb a lot, above all thanks to the aforementioned atmosphere and the subject matter, but it fails to take the decisive step to get to real terror. Of course, even in this case we are faced with a step forward compared to the predecessor, who disastrously failed this mission.
The most important and successful work, however, lies in the historical accuracy and in the reconstruction of everything concerning the seventeenth century, with chromatic changes (and not only those) to mark the phases. The trademark of Supermassive Games returns evergreen, namely i jumpscare, always present but never too out of place: you do not try to "force" fear by inserting them where they would have been useless, but they are studied and consistent with the scenes (of course, apart from a couple of cases where they were deliberately inserted to "have fun "With the player). However, immersion in the game will be very important, and we reiterate again the importance of the various objects and documents that you will find, because they will be indispensable to enter the mood of the facts told (present and past).
Although it is a medium-length game, the great variety of choices and approaches that can be implemented in the game extend, as often happens, the longevity of a lot, with even the small plus of the modes dedicated to multiple players (and let's remember, at a more than acceptable price). Certainly a very appreciable second title for the Dark Pictures Anthology, and we hope it will be the first step for a pretty good climb. But where will we end up with the next title?
See you next time! Maybe in the South Pacific, or in the Arabian desert, or in another place… but we will meet again, at least one more time.