Halloween is once again upon us my friends, and with it comes a bunch of content intended to scare the living socks off our feet. Not everything might scare people exactly in the same sense, and if you’re a “horror fanatic” like I am, it’s not exactly a walk in the park to find something original these days. Well, search no more, because The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is a new game that might just quench this bloodthirst of yours.
Little Hope is the second installment in The Dark Pictures Anthology; a series of survival horror games set in the third-person perspective. The game was developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Much like its predecessor Man of Medan, the story is a standalone narrative that puts the fate of the plot and its characters into the hands of the player. If you ever dreamed of controlling the plot of the horror film you’re watching then, by all means, read on, if you dare.
Little Hope follows the story of 4 college students and their professor who become stranded in the fictional Massachusetts ghost town of Little Hope. Their bus, having crashed due to a peculiar circumstance, leaves them trapped in a mysterious fog. While controlling each of the characters and their desperate attempts at escape, you are plagued by visions of the past that haunt you at every corner. Just like Man of Medan, the story has a narrator called the Curator played by actor Pip Torrens, who gives you insightful clues that will later come back to bite you if you don’t make what feels to be “the right decisions.” After pulling the story of Little Hope off of his bookshelf, you are thrown into this mysterious town with many secrets, and it’s up to you to complete it.
You get to play as 5 different characters, each with their own set of characteristics and narrative progressing dialogue. The story follows Professor John (Alex Ivanovici) and his students Andrew (Will Poulter), Taylor (Caitlyn Sponheimer), Daniel (Kyle Bailey), and the elder of the group Angela (Ellen David). Each character is played at various points of the game, sometimes flipping back and forth depending on who gets split up or not. Much like other interactive decision-based games, you are given a few seconds to point a compass needle towards the words of your choosing. There are three options for dialogue, in which one will always be to say nothing. The Curator heavily advises the player to stay true to one’s self and to choose the dialogue you feel would be suitable for the situation. Be sure to keep in mind that these conversations not only impact the relationships between characters but also the events that are to come.
Each character has a menu in which you could see their characteristics and view their relationships with other characters. For example, if you chose to have an attitude towards one of the characters, a red arrow will appear facing down next to the name of that character. They will react and remember how you were towards them, so keep that in mind. Also in this menu, you will see categories titled Bearings, Secrets, and Pictures. Bearings are basically story sequences that develop based on your decisions; a spinning dial will appear on the left side of the screen when this is activated. Secrets are things that you can find by walking around the environment, you can pick up or read things that might advance your decision process.
Lastly, pictures are extremely useful because they give you a flash of a future scenario that might happen based on your actions. There are multiple plot paths so don’t feel discouraged when things occur that you never intended. There are quite a few action sequences that require QTE interactions. If this is something that you might struggle with, the accessibility menu has a couple of options that will make your playthrough experience better.
With a playthrough time of about 5 hours, I was fortunate enough to play this game three times, and I believe that its multiplayer options are one of its strong suits. You can either play in an online co-op or a party mode in which you assign a character to a specific person and pass the remote when the character changes. This allows for a more immersive and fun experience. My girlfriend (who normally doesn’t play video games) found herself so immersed in the story that we made a whole night out of it.
With its spot on jump scares and creepy ambiance, the game leaves you and your friends constantly on the edge of mystery and fear. You want all your friends to survive? It’s up to them and their decisions during the playthrough. The online co-op is also well put together, allowing your friend to walk alongside you or have their own experiences once characters split up. Unlike the movie night option, the co-op constantly switches your characters around, so don’t get too comfortable but still make the decisions you feel are best for them when active.
I personally really enjoyed playing Little Hope and found that even though I played through it multiple times, each experience was unique. How many times do you watch a slasher film and find yourself yelling at the characters for their decisions? This game allows you to put the blame on yourself in a cinematic yet interactive experience unlike any other. There is so much depth to this story that I didn’t want to explore due to spoilers, but it throws you into such a mystery that it really leaves you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Also, the graphics and animations are so beautifully crafted that you might literally feel like you’re watching a movie. Please for the love of all things scary, do yourself a favor and purchase this game. I promise it’ll make your quarantine Halloween weekend much more enjoyable. Little Hope is set to release Friday, October 30th, and also be on the lookout for future installments coming to the series.