The Devil In Me is the fourth and final entry into Season 1 of Supermassive Games’ Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of short horror stories where the aim is to save as many characters as possible.
Anybody who has played a Dark Pictures game will know exactly what to expect here. The Devil In Me is another 5-10 hour interactive drama that oozes with B-movie horror charm. It’s cheesy, it’s spooky, and for the most part, it’s a lot of fun. Just like Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes before it, The Devil In Me allows players to make decisions that affect each character’s personality traits, as well as their overall fates.
Where this latest installment differs from the previous games, however, is with the new gameplay mechanics. In an attempt to move the franchise away from its more cinematic feel, the developers have added the ability to freely move the camera rather than having the fixed angles found in the first three games. Players are now able to traverse with more freedom. Climbing ladders, moving objects, and jumping gaps are activities you will find yourself doing a little too often in this game. In fact, these new features only serve to slow the pace down to a screeching halt and distract from what these games do best, horror. Although these new sections are a good way to add more collectables and secrets to the game’s otherwise linier map, they are so poorly executed that it felt like playing an old PS1 game rather than a 2022 PS5 title at times.
There is also a new inventory system that allows each of the five characters to have their own unique items as well as being able to pick up keys to progress through the many locked doors. One character is able to use a card to break into locked drawers, while another uses a camera pole to reach collectibles hidden high above them. If you’re thinking Resident Evil, then think again. The unique items that these characters can use never felt like they were made good use of. There aren’t any real puzzles to solve and I often forgot they were even an option. In most cases, each character only had one opportunity to actually make use of their special item before going back to clumsily fumbling up ladders and climbing down ledges. Admittedly, I did lose two characters quite early into the story, so there’s a chance they could have made more use of their items if they had survived. But even the two surviving characters I had at the end only used their special items a total of three times between them.
Thankfully, the horror elements that this series is famed for are still here and arguably better than ever. This time around, the story takes place in a true house of horrors. You take control of five filmmakers who are making a documentary inside a replica of HH Holmes’ famous ‘Murder Hotel’. HH Holmes was America’s first ever serial killer and was said to have used traps and secret compartments in his hotel to murder dozens of innocent holiday makers. Our group of protagonists unsurprisingly find themselves the victims of a copycat killer who is once again using the Murder Hotel to, well.. murder people. Shock, horror.
Having this story take place inside a creepy hotel full of saw-inspired traps and secret death chambers results in one of the scariest locations we’ve ever witnessed in any Supermassive game. Oh, did I also mention that this hotel is built on an abandoned island with no way of escaping? Yeah, this entire map is a joy (or terror) to explore for horror fans. Adding to the terror of the Murder Hotel is the game’s big baddy who feels ripped straight out of an 80’s slasher movie. I won’t say anymore about the identity of this copycat killer as finding clues and secrets about his backstory as you go is one of the most rewarding experiences in the game. What I will say is that he’s easily my favourite antagonist of the series and I genuinely felt terrified of bumping into him when turning every corner of this horrifying hotel. He’s a looming shadow whose presence is a breath of fresh air following the previous games. Not that there was anything wrong with the horror elements in the first three titles, but it’s refreshing to have a stripped back psychopath who doesn’t come with any supernatural bells and whistles.
As is expected in a Supermassive game, the visuals resemble that of a full priced AAA title rather than the smaller budget game that it truly is. As good as the character models look, and believe me they look brilliant, the facial expressions, glazed eyes, and overall weird movement makes these characters feel wooden and soulless. Whether something has changed in the development process, or the arrival of a new generation has shined a light on a longer lasting issue is hard to say. Either way, it was a distraction from start to finish. Inconsistent voice acting is also an issue. The cheesy dialogue has always been a staple of what these games are about, but when it’s delivered in such an uneven manner it begins to feel like I’m laughing at these people rather than with them. It’s not always bad, there are some real moments of quality with both the voice acting and the soundtrack. However, the bad mostly outweighed the good. Thankfully, the return of the ever-present Curator voiced by Pip Torrens was brilliant as always. The Curator has been the only link between the four games in the Dark Pictures and I can not wait to get more of him in Season 2.
Before I finish up this review, I feel the need to mention the huge amount of bugs that littered part of my playthrough. I played on PS5 and came across a number of weird glitches. In one instance, a character kept trying to look behind her while I was moving forward and resulted in her neck and body getting all twisted up. It was one of the scariest visuals in the game but completely accidental. Other visual bugs included people walking through walls, characters talking with no noise coming out, and characters holding invisible items, only for said item to appear floating next to their head in the next scene. Harshly speaking, it was a hot mess. Luckily though, there was recently a huge 21GB patch which appears to have fixed the majority of issues. I do plan on starting again, partly to see if all the bugs are fixed but also because I want to see more of the game I missed despite the bugs.
The Devil In Me had all the pieces in place to finish Season 1 of the Dark Pictures with a bang. Unfortunately the overall experience is let down by unnecessary new gameplay additions and overly long traversal sections that all but kill the pace of the story. Clunky movement, bad acting, and a few bugs don’t help matters either. Having said all that, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having one hell of a time playing through this fantastic horror story. The location of a Murder Hotel on an abandoned island makes for a truly horrifying experience that is only maximised with the best protagonist of the series to date. Even with the game’s flaws, I couldn’t bring myself to ever turn off my PS5 as I uncovered more and more information about this spooky hotel and its sadistic owner.
7 / 10
Given that this was the end of The Dark Pictures Season 1, now feels like the perfect time to quickly review the series as a whole.
Man of Medan was a rocky start with enough jump scares to keep players interested in what the developers would do next with the series. It may not hold up well compared to what came next, but it was solid enough. (7)
Little Hope was the moment where they really found their feet. A fantastic story with interesting characters and a dark twist made Little Hope the best example of what the Dark Pictures set out to be in the first place. A scary and fun story with tons of replayability. (9)
House of Ashes felt like the Supermassive Games team letting their hair down and going balls to the wall with a crazy experience that put action before horror. It’s easily the least scary game in the series but arguably the most fun. (9)
The Devil In Me suffers from too many gameplay additions that only serve to get in the way of what these games do best, tell stories. Luckily though, the story is still great. This could have easily been the best in the series if it had kept things simple. (7)
If you’re a fan of horror then I can highly recommend this collection of games. They’re short and easy to play. They can also all be played with friends if you don’t want to brave it alone.
The Dark Pictures Anthology Season 1 gets an 8/10 overall from me.
Written and edited by Mikey.