Dark Pictures: Little Hope is the latest entry in the currently ongoing The Dark Pictures Anthology, and it has a lot to offer to players who enjoyed the previous entry in the series, Man of Medan, and developer Supermassive Games’ 2015 title Until Dawn. But to someone new to these games, Little Hope might not actually be the best place to jump in.
This game is a narrative experience, and it’s primarily composed of a series of interactable cutscenes that involve decision making and the occasional quick-time events, broken up by fixed camera gameplay sections reminiscent of the earlier Resident Evil and Silent Hill games.
And to this game’s credit, these scenes are very well composed and delightfully creepy. The acting for the most part is also extremely on point. But the main problem I have with this narrative-driven game is that the story drops the ball hard when it really counts.
The game starts with a flashback to the 1970s and focuses on a family that is clearly going through some issues, and one member of this family, Megan, is clearly being influenced by some supernatural force. After a brief dramatic scene filled with tension and a lot of yelling, the house burns down and all of its inhabitants, except one, perish in the fire.
Fast forward to the present day, where 5 individuals with faces identical to the family in the 70s are riding in a bus when it crashes and leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere. The bus driver has mysteriously vanished, and now there’s an eerie fog that’s egging our protagonists into the abandoned town of Little Hope.
From here the game really starts, and it begins to lay the foundation for a genuinely spooky and mysterious story. It’s tense, terrifying, and it very smartly hints at events that tie into the overall supernatural themes of the game. But due to a few different issues, the story flops hard.
The game’s major twist is a massive letdown, and it isn’t smart or clever in any way. I can’t say that I wasn’t surprised by it, the plot was a success in that regard, but it just feels like all of the time I invested in the game was taken for granted.
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As I mentioned before, the acting in this game is great, but it doesn’t count for much when your main protagonists are bland one-note characters whose names you struggle to remember. I didn’t care about any of them at all, and I felt nothing when something happened to them.
One of the core mechanics of this game is a system in which choices you make not only impact character relationships and dynamics, but also certain personality traits that get more and more pronounced in a character as you lean towards decisions that highlight those traits.
But again, none of this means much if you don’t care about the characters themselves. Why would I care about the relationship between two characters if I can’t tell you the first thing about them? The writing is to blame here, but I also think that the game’s 5-hour length doesn’t leave a lot of time to learn about or get us to care for our protagonists.
What I will praise the game for though, are the actual scares that it delivers and the sense of tension that it often builds up.
The sound, lighting, and frame composition are all top-notch here, and Little Hope managed to scare me even when I knew that something was coming. The jump scares are honestly the best part of this game, and I say this as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of this particular technique. But I will applaud the game for what it does right.
In conclusion, Little Hope is a mediocre narrative experience that starts of really strong but takes an absolute nosedive towards the end. The character writing was bad and I didn’t care about the main protagonists, and ultimately their final fates evoked no strong reactions from me.
The scares were good though, and I feel like fans of Supermassive Games will find some solace in that fact.