Man of Medan was just the beginning for Supermassive Games’ Dark Pictures Anthology. After a horrifying experience at sea on the Ourang Medan, the second entry in the Anthology brings us back to dry land and to the quiet but ominous town of Little Hope.
Those who played Man of Medan should already know what to expect from Little Hope in terms of gameplay and tone. Strap yourselves in for a suspenseful ride as we get into the nitty gritty of an abandoned and mysterious ghost town in the second game that is The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope.
Welcome to Little Hope
Little Hope puts us in the shoes of five individuals, all the victims of an unfortunate accident after their bus was forced to take a detour through the titular town of Little Hope. Stuck in the middle of nowhere and mysteriously kept inside the town by a fog (sounds familiar?), college students Andrew, Taylor, Daniel, and Angela, along with their professor John, must figure out what happened to their missing bus driver and survive, as the ghost town of Little Hope is anything but abandoned and hospitable.
The game has this clever way of storytelling as after a prologue we’re introduced to the Curator, a recurring character in the Anthology as he introduces us to Little Hope and tasks us to help finish the story by guiding our five characters, making decisions along the way and influencing the outcome.
Occasionally the game will actually bring us back to the Curator, reminding us that we’re not alone on this journey. He also tells you how you’ve been progressing, making very cryptic remarks and will even provide useful hints should you want them. Either way, the Curator may come off a bit condescending, but I believe that’s what the developers were going for. It does make him a bit memorable and he should be, being the face that you’ll likely be seeing a lot of in the Anthology.
Playing the first title in the anthology, Man of Medan, is completely unnecessary as Little Hope has little to no connection to the previous game. From what I can tell, they’re linked only as far as they’re part of an Anthology. If the series will be following the same formula, all we just need to know is the recurring theme is a story that we need to decide the outcome of and we’ll have our mysterious Curator observing every step of the way.
Decide Their Fate
Little Hope plays like an interactive movie along the lines of Detroit: Become Human and Supermassive Games’ previous title, Until Dawn. You’ll be watching our characters as they go about their situations and occasionally you’ll be presented with different ways to affect the flow of the story.
Expect things like sudden quick time events where you must press a button within a time limit, or button sequences where you must time your presses, and you can’t forget the occasional branching decisions wherein you’re asked to choose a certain path or in the case of conversations choose the response that jives with you.
That’s not all you’re going to do as there will be times where you can freely control your character so you can go around looking for clues and secrets that can help you piece together the narrative. But do not expect much from this as there’s not a lot and the most you will do is walk and look for shiny points of interests to interact with. It feels very lacking in this sense, and is a complete contradiction to the myriad of branching choices given by the game.
This is no survival horror gig, where you need to manage ammo and solve elaborate puzzles to advance. You’re pretty much on a rail with minimal freedom and different endings. In every sense of the word, it’s an interactive horror movie.
You won’t be controlling just one character too as the game will constantly switch among the five you’ll be helping survive and let’s just say this isn’t a fun field trip where everybody gets along and hold hands walking together.
Aside from affecting the paths you’ll be following in the game, the choices you make will also affect your relationship with other characters as responses you can give range from hostile to supportive, or simply say nothing at all. This will be important as your relationship with characters will determine the responses the game will provide you with. The game will also keep track of who you were mean or nice to.
It’s pretty much the meat of the game, as the decisions you make will determine how the game goes and ends. And there isn’t any wrong answers here too. It’s your story to craft as much as it is of the characters you’re controlling, which works very for replayability of the game.
Whether you’re the saint who wants everybody to survive or the sadistic prick that makes every character mean to each other and want to make sure nobody survives the night is completely up to you. By all means, mess up a playable moment on purpose just to see how things will turn out. It’s just another option anyways.
A little on the average side
A horror game lives and dies by the experience, and Little Hope plays it a little too safe that it somehow hurts the bottom line. There is no doubt that Little Hope is a scary game and it may make you jump your seat, but the game depends too much on tried and tested familiar horror elements that during your initial 5 or 6 hour playthrough, the game becomes very predictable.
Jumpscares are used a little too often that it gets repetitive at some point, even diminishing the scare that it was going for. Another element that’s used a lot to incite some level of suspense is foreshadowing. Let’s just say whenever the cameras zooms out and shows a random shot away from the characters, expect that something is going to show up to surprise you, which will also give you a hint on what’s to come.
If there’s anything that’s going in Little Hope’s favor, it’s the story. The game did a pretty good job with how the story went that I didn’t see the twists coming. Sharper players though may pick up on the hints given throughout by the game, and even by the Curator himself. Either way, it was a good story to follow, although one that won’t exactly stick with me for long.
And let’s not forget that my initial outcome is just one of many possible ways for the story to end, which may bump that 5 to 6 hour playtime a bit higher. But it will depend on how attached you got to our five protagonists that you’ll want to decide their fates. Though I got familiar with everyone by the end, none really stood out that could make any of them potential video game icons.
Herein lies the main problem of Little Hope. The game provides so much choices and branches that ideally, you’d want to see all of it, but the journey towards these choices are largely unremarkable that the characters don’t really leave a mark on the player, making them just puppets instead of personalities you would care for.
If anything, Little Hope feels like a by-the-book interactive movie that checks all the boxes delivering an experience that’s just right but not exactly memorable.
What we liked:
- Branching paths and choices
- Decent writing and acting
What we didn’t like:
- Predictable horror elements
- Forgettable playable characters
Little Hope had a decent story with some unexpected twists, but the overreliance on jump scares made the experience very predictable. Add a group of hardly memorable characters that you don’t care too much for, and the journey really loses you along the way.
That being said, Little Hope is priced very fairly for a brand new title, making the price of admission rather cheap. Value wise, you’re getting a replayable game with multiple branches and endings, but the path you’re taking for it isn’t exactly the most exciting or scary one.
All in all, the second entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology is an interactive horror movie that can be worth its weight after a sale. Despite its low starting price, it doesn’t promote a must play vibe due to its predictability and textbook implementation.
*The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope was reviewed on a PS4 Pro via a review code provided by the publisher.