Why does society idolize serial killers? There are movies, shows, podcasts, and museums dedicated to these people yet we crave to know more about them, to get inside their minds. People who have done literally the evilest things a human being can do to another and we put them into Netflix specials and we try to analyze their psychological motivations.
What if a fan of a certain serial killer took their fascination too far? What if instead of collecting memorabilia and pictures, they collected the very mindset, hunger, and evil to be the very person that they idolize? If this premise sounds intriguing in the slightest, then The Devil in Me from The Dark Pictures Anthology is the game for you.
Developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, The Devil in Me is the fourth installment in the franchise. Just like in the previous installments, the game follows a character choice-based narrative with QTE action sequences that affect the multiple outcomes of the plot. Your objective is to get your characters to survive till the end, or not, there are multiple endings and outcomes based on your decisions, including the ones you don’t think are that important. The possibilities are what make these games so uniquely replayable and they add to the horror of choice and failure, with outcomes that are always equally entertaining.
The main plot of The Devil in Me revolves around a group of documentary filmmakers (think any show on the Discovery channel) as they attempt to film a very special episode for their latest season. They had been working on a feature regarding the real serial killer H.H Holmes and the affairs of his “Murder Castle” during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
However, between editing and working on the script, something seems to be missing that would give the episode an extra kick. Very randomly and mysteriously the group is invited by a fan of H.H. Holmes, who claims to have a huge collection of actual items and a literal replica property of the “Murder Castle.” Finding this all too good to be true, the group, who are dealing with their own drama, decide to visit this mysterious island and film the rest of the special there. Very quickly things start to spiral and they begin to realize that some things are just not worth the ratings.
Just as in the previous games, you are given a few seconds to point a compass needle toward the words of your choosing. There are three options for dialogue which one will always be to say nothing. The dialogue choices will also affect the relationship and options between the characters. For example, one character wants to start a new career and the other may not be over their failed relationship.
Depending on your choices, the future of their friendship/relationship will be determined and play a role in the storylines between other characters as well. Always trust your instincts with this game and remain true to yourself. It allows for a more immersive experience and truly makes you feel like you are with them in this situation. Personally, I always felt like I was worried too much about the choices that would keep the characters alive, and I came to realize you really never know what option will lead down that path.
Each character has a menu in which you could see their characteristics and view their relationships with the other characters. They will react and remember how you were towards them, so always be mindful of that. Also in the menu, you will see categories titled Bearings, Secrets, and Pictures. Bearings are story sequences that develop based on your decisions; a bunch of little crows will fly across 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. Pictures are super useful because they give you a glimpse of a future deadly 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 play-through experience better.
There are a lot of new features that were added to this game that I think are a step in the right direction for future installments. There are more puzzle-based situations such as moving things around so you can climb, reading a paper that has door codes, following a switch sequence to turn the power back on, and more. There are more action movements such as jumping from ledge to ledge, climbing and running. The characters also have an item inventory with special skills that allow them to unlock things or turn a light on to see in the dark. These new items can be accessed with the D-pad in the bottom left corner. I found these additions gave more personality to the character and control to the player, when a lot of this game revolves around conversation and QTE actions, it was nice to have some new features.
Another great thing about these games is the multiplayer options. You can do the “Movie Night” option or play online with another friend. “Movie Night” is cool because you can have friends over and pass the remote to whichever character they want to play as. Their choices will affect the other characters as well and it’s basically like following a movie you all can interact with.
Playing solo is great too, but there’s something very thrilling about leaving some of the control in another player’s hands and seeing how their decisions progress the plot as well. When another person is playing, they will take control over multiple characters at separate times. You may not even be in the same scene and your friend will be in an entirely different situation all happening in real time. The multiplayer option is probably my favorite and I think it’s a major selling point for this game. I’m hoping to get my friends to try this at the next party that I throw.
Overall, I will say the game is not perfect. There are some questionable character decisions and eye-rolling moments, but the narrative is fun and puts you in the path of a serial killer, unlike any game I’ve ever played. Some scenes are very nerving with you walking down creepy hallways just to turn around and find a wall where you just came from. The game plays on the fictional depictions of H.H Holme’s “Murder Castle” and how his hallways had trap doors, and revolving rooms that made the hallways into mazes. The game executes that wonderfully and I enjoyed being confused as I tried to find my way around the place.
The only thing that bothered me in this game more than anything was the eyes of the characters. I found the characters constantly looking around back and forth and even over characters as they spoke to them, but other than that, the graphics are wonderful along with the sound design. With a playtime of about 6 hours and the cost being $39.99, the game is worth every penny. Will you survive the horrors that lie within or will you become the very prey it was built to attract? The Devil in Me is available on Microsoft Windows, PS4/5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S right now.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me for the PlayStation 5 provided by Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco Entertainment.