The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me Review
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me is the latest entry from Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology. As the season-ender for the series, The Devil In Me concludes this set that started from Man From Medan to our well-received House of Ashes. From our preview, The Devil In Me had the potential to be the best in this set.
The plot of The Devil In Me follows a documentary film crew covering true crimes by notorious serial killers. The crew is currently covering America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes, where their final episode failed to capture the horror behind the murders. As their producer Charlie receives an invitation from an eccentric heir to H. H. Holmes’ memorabilia, the crew proceeds to follow a lead that would end them up in a replica of Holmes’ infamous murder castle.
Don’t Get Separated
The Devil In Me starts slowly. It’s a little unfair to compare it to House of Ashes, where one is more of an action-horror, whereas The Devil In Me follows a plot closer to The Saw movie franchise.
Visually, there are times when the game appears like it hasn’t improved over the span of the series, with the lighting being a bit too dark and the jogging animations being awkward and choppy. At this point in the console generation and as the season ender, we’ve come to expect a bit more, and this feels like a lackluster update to an already completed template.
The characters of The Devil In Me are a mixed bag of stubborn, unlikeable characters with petty gripes and grudges of reality show quality. While House of Ashes had its share of them, the war backdrop adds enough conflict to distract you from the annoying low-stakes character drama. The Devil In Me, however, meanders through their relationships, which you’re supposed to care about but don’t.
I felt that the narrative flow when setting up The Devil In Me was uneven. The setup jammed up all the character relationships at the start to get them out of the way while failing to build tension toward the eventual horrors.
While I appreciated the creeping dread that followed the crew, we were already teased about what to expect in the prologue, so all we were doing is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Any sort of “action” kicks in after the second hour, which I felt took too long to happen.
There are some legit moments in The Devil In Me that really crank up the tension to eleven. The first time the power goes out and you have your character in the dark following strange noises with her directional microphone was a nice touch. That in itself was horror gold, especially with how it all plays out at the end. The use of the haptic feedback on the Dualsense to generate a heartbeat effect is also a nice touch.
However, this horror element is needlessly repeated in multiple scenes, resulting in overuse and killing the wow factor altogether. The same can be said of unnecessary jump scares, losing their edge after a while. Some still get you, though, while others feel more like an irritation.
Supermassive Games have the tendency to overdo things that work, which is a shame because if these ideas were peppered well throughout the game, it would’ve been a great horror experience. They’ve overdone Quicktime events in The Quarry to the point of nausea, and now they’re overdoing aspects that worked in House of Ashes that really don’t have a place in The Devil In Me.
The repeated use of dark corridors and dimly lit areas also became annoying after a while. Instead of building tension as they did for the original scene, some areas will leave you walking around in circles, causing frustration.
Survive The Night
The Devil In Me innovates the series in The Dark Pictures Anthology more effectively compared to the previous titles, which feel quite uniform when compared to each other. I appreciated the sparing use of Quicktime events unless absolutely necessary, but in the form of mechanics that worked.
A couple of new mechanics introduced in the game are the limited inventory and each character having their own way to traverse areas, along with an ability that is unique to them. Charlie can pick locks using his business cards, Erin can detect sounds with her mic, and Jamie can manipulate fuse boxes as she is the gaffer. I appreciated how each character brought their expertise to the table, so keeping them alive really helped the group out as we progressed through the game.
While combat could’ve been simplified, I wish they’d developed the puzzles better rather than being relegated to doing fetch quests to open locked doors and switching the power back on. I also expected better mechanics in the relationship decisions that the characters made, resulting in more satisfying outcomes rather than sticking to the script.
Supermassive Games has the habit of developing irritating and unlikeable characters. However, what made Until Dawn and House of Ashes stand out was that despite their characters being unlikeable, their actions during these dire situations revealed their true character. Prejudiced characters in House of Ashes were actually loyal and reliable friends, and petulant teenagers become self-sacrificing heroes in Until Dawn.
The characters in The Devil In Me mostly stayed petty, needlessly antagonistic, and willfully ignorant throughout their time in the murder castle. There were moments of character growth, but they were few and far between.
Decisions felt more arbitrary in this game, as simple choices got you killed quicker than the combination of decisions and last-minute saves thanks to QTEs. Because of this, some characters were unfairly killed off, and while premonitions help mitigate this, they’re more obtuse as the game goes on and are not as predictable as the previous iterations. It may be a good thing for some, but it can go either way.
The silver lining to having characters easily die in this game is that, without giving too many spoilers, keeping them alive was the more standard narrative path. When a character unceremoniously dies, they become a living addition to the killer’s animatronic collection, which was quite a nice, horrific set piece waiting to unfold.
As is standard with these games, there are many collectibles scattered around, with “Obols” that you can even use to purchase special features that can provide more backstory. In particular, the documentary on H. H. Holmes was also a nice featurette to get some background on the real serial killer they were referencing.
The Devil In Me has a much more robust run time, taking about 8 or so hours depending on how you play, much more than previous installments. Replaying it is another story, as the combination of basic puzzles and tired character tropes will mostly get in the way of motivating you to do so.
As the last entry in this anthology, I also hoped that the curator would play a more active role in the story, similar to Eliza in The Quarry. Unfortunately, we may have to wait until the new season to get some more insight into their true nature.
What We Liked:
- Improved gameplay mechanics that incrementally innovate the franchise.
- Codex items and Bonus Features are pretty fun to collect.
- Some horror set pieces genuinely brought tension.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Overdone horror tropes.
- Unlikeable characters that don’t improve over their basic character arc.
- Clunky combat mechanics.
Verdict: Wait For It…
The Devil In Me, the last installment in this anthology, tries to innovate the tired formula but doesn’t really succeed. The developers have experimented with new features such as adding an inventory system and improving their existing QuickTime events, but at the same time, they shoot themselves in the foot by overdoing certain aspects that could have made for a better horror game.
The Devil In Me works as part of the complete set. However, as the season-ender that would collectively blow our minds, it definitely could’ve done more to push the envelope. I’m hoping that they take what they’ve improved in The Devil In Me and learn from it to innovate the next season of the franchise. There are some good ideas here, but as they say, the devil is in the details.
*The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.