The new horror of Supermassive Games is about to come to life in The Devil in Me, the last chapter of the first season of The Dark Pictures Anthology. Before getting our hands on the full game, however, we were given the opportunity to explore the gloomy corridors of the hotel that once belonged to HH Holmes and to taste for about an hour the atmosphere that the players are preparing to experience in this new appointment with the work from the creators of Until Dawn and The Quarry (by the way, read our review of The Quarry if you don’t want the big bad wolf to eat you …).
The castle of the murders
Let’s say that if you have already read our in-depth analysis on the plot and gameplay of The Devil in Me you should not need the following recap, but since we are not as cruel as HH Holmes we will quickly remind you what are the premises of this episode: a television crew is heading to an old abandoned hotel to shoot the last episode of a docuseries, with the onerous task of packaging a product that can convince the owner network to renew the show for another season and save most of the staff from being fired.
The destination of the group is the World’s Fair Hotel, once called the Castle of the Homicides: here, in fact, the famous doctor HH Holmes in the past conducted unspeakable tortures on the poor guests of the structure. When the maniac was arrested, the police reported as many as 27 killings within the hotel walls, but it is highly probable that the final calculation was far superior. On trial, Holmes claimed to be possessed by the devil, who had ordered him to carry out the carnage. This is, for those who do not know, a real case of American news at the end of the nineteenth century, a story that gave the doctor the title of the first great serial killer in American history and on which Supermassive has carried out careful research. historiographical. The crew, which encompasses the entire cast of playable protagonists, includes Charlie, the show’s arrogant director; Kate, the show’s vain host, and her ex, Mark, camera operator; then there is the ironic Jamie, lighting technician, and finally the insecure Erin, who takes care of the audio equipment. We know that the team is a guest of the mysterious owner of the hotel, who nevertheless disappears in the middle of the night and leaves ours at the mercy of the building’s pitfalls and secrets, among hidden rooms, disturbing mannequins and a menacing shadow that peers at them from the darkness.
The demo we tried catapulted us into an advanced phase of the game, probably immediately after the opening, in which we are already in the heart of the horror. This section allowed us to control every single character and to start cultivating (or, why not, even ruining …) some delicate interpersonal relationship. Charlie – who is a hot-tempered smoker, nervous and also domineering with his employees, but also has defects – is in the throes of withdrawal because Erin, who is also his personal assistant, has lost her cigarettes.
The duo then begins to enter the hotel to find a cue, perhaps in the bar area, but they begin to sense that there is something strange in the air. Meanwhile, Mark and Kate search for a suitable setting to use for the shoot, and as they discuss their past, they begin to familiarize themselves with the labyrinthine conformation of the building. Finally, Jamie attempts to repair the Murder Castle electrical system, coming into contact with disturbing phenomena.
Between novelty and tradition
In this phase of the episode there will be a way to deepen the classic mechanics of the saga, but also to experience something new. The exploration and collection of clues or information about the surrounding environment alternate with long sequences of dialogue, in which the choice of the answer can greatly influence the mood and feelings of each character.
The sequence then proceeds through a scene in which the troupe gathers, starting to discuss and confront with implications that vary according to the words expressed up to this moment. Only later, when the group splits up for the second time, the horror begins to manifest itself and the protagonists realize that they are being hunted by a mysterious invisible force that begins to attack their lives. The main novelty of The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is represented by some new exploration options, which we got a little taste of during this short demo. As already expressed in the past by the development team, in fact, The Devil in Me marks an interesting evolution for the interactive adventures signed Supermassive, which now boast greater freedom of movement and useful options for the narrative advancement. In The Devil in Me, in fact, it is possible to jump from one point to another or climb to raised floors, so as to reach levers, buttons or useful objects to unlock a door.
This mechanic introduces two interesting factors into the playful mixture of The Dark Pictures Anthology: on the one hand, the existence of environmental puzzles a little more challenging than in the past and on the other hand a greater verticality of the scenarios.
This last factor, however, is to be kept in mind: the need to move both up and down to solve a puzzle, combined with a certain slowness in the movements of the characters, risks slowing down the pace of the adventure a lot. Taking into account that The Devil in Me’s longevity will be even greater than its predecessors, the hope is that exploration, dialogue and action are balanced properly throughout the episode.
The protagonists are also equipped with exclusive tools that will prove to be more or less useful for advancing or obtaining secondary objects, which perhaps could determine their survival. Let’s take an example: there are characters like Jamie, in possession of an extendable shaft, who can reach clues placed in elevated positions. Or again, poor Erin, fearful and asthmatic as well, soon finds herself in a dangerous situation in which she has to decide whether to use the tool or not. The inhaler obviously has a small number of refills, and here “wasting” one at the least opportune moment could become fatal.