Little Hope is the latest entry into The Dark Pictures Anthology, a collection of short interactive horror stories by Supermassive Games. It’s a brand new story with only the wonderfully creepy curator acting as the connective tissue between the two games. With only a year removed from the anthology’s maiden voyage – Man of Medan, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Little Hope is hardly reinventing the wheel here, but that doesn’t stop it from being a hugely enjoyable experience, especially if you’re a fan of what Supermassive Games do.
Note: This is a spoiler free review so fear not if you are yet to play Little Hope. Also you can view the video version of this review in the link below if you prefer..
The spooky tale told in Little Hope is what the majority of people will be here for and it does not disappoint. The old abandoned town of Little Hope plays host to our five playable characters who you as the player are tasked with keeping alive until morning. Much like both Man of Medan and Until Dawn, you randomly take control of a different character in every scene and have to make decisions that either help or hinder your group going forward.
One of the biggest complaints in Little Hope’s predecessor was how effective the decisions you made really were. The issue isn’t totally rectified here as, especially in the early hours, it often feels that you’re being guided down a particular path regardless of the choices you make. This didn’t really bother me however as the story being told was so interesting that I was happy for the storytellers to take control of the events until the later hours of the game where earlier decisions really come back to either save or doom our cast of wannabe survivors.
As already revealed in trailers, the story jumps between the current day nightmare the characters are trying to escape and the horrific witch trials that took place on the cursed grounds of Little Hope in the late 17th century. Both stories had me glued to my screen throughout the entirety of my five hour adventure and the desire to want to know more drove me forward at all times.
Much like in Man of Medan there are secrets scattered throughout the town of Little Hope, every secret acts as another piece of the puzzle that helps to tell the overall story of what happened over history and attempts to tie it all together. One of my main issues with this system last year was that I felt I needed to find the majority of the secrets for Man of Medan’s story to fully make sense. Thankfully that wasn’t the case this time in Little Hope. Not only were the secrets easier to find but they acted as an expansion to the already great story rather than an explanation for a slightly confusing and disjointed one we saw previously.
The framed pictures that offer glimpses into our characters futures also make a welcomed return. In my playthrough I felt that they played more of a part than ever before. I would see these premonitions and actively choose to avoid picking up curtain items which I thought may lead to an unfortunate end. They never spoil anything or make your decisions too obvious but they’re enough to make you question what might usually be a pretty straight forward yes or no answer.
The characters themselves live up to Supermassive Games’ reputation of writing teen horror stereotypes and just like their previous games they actually really work. It can often be comical how one-dimensional these guys and gals can be in the early hours of the game. This is quickly forgiven though as having full control over all their characteristics means you can build your team of protagonists how you like. For example I made sure I had one character who was more head strong than the others and one who was more compassionate and grounded. It may just be down to luck but the way my story ended suited each character in a way that felt satisfying to the way I’d made them.
The great characters and story is only complimented by the game’s outstanding visuals. Every facial animation looks realistic and is helped by the return of real-life actors like Will Poulter, who you may recognise from movies like Detroit or Midsommar. Lighting and textures are both top class and even the jarring camera angle changes only add to Little Hope’s excellent atmosphere. The dialogue can definitely sound cheesy or unnatural from time to time but that’s got to be expected in a game where we dictate where the conversations go. It’s barely noticeable though when the voice acting for the most part is top notch.
Design choices elsewhere, especially in the game’s spooky enemies, truly sent chills up my spine. I can’t say too much due to spoilers but the more horrors that came to light, the more creeped out I became. The level design of Little Hope itself is great too. Although you’re led down a very linier path, the use of old tourist maps and flashbacks really made me feel like I was exploring an old haunted ghost town with tons of character and history.
Gameplay is exactly what you’d expect. If you’re jumping into Little Hope purely for the gameplay then you’re bound to be disappointed. As expected the gameplay comes down to quick time events, point & click, yes or no options and the return of the heartbeat timer that we saw in Man of Medan. It’s maybe a little disappointing that there wasn’t a new mechanic added for this latest entry but this minimalistic gameplay style never took away from my overall enjoyment of what Little Hope is trying to be. Yes it often feels like you’re watching as much as you’re playing, but isn’t that the point?
Overall I can’t think of a more enjoyable way I could have spent my Halloween weekend, especially during a year where fancy dress parties are a no-go. Even if you’d rather share the jump scares with your friends, you can as Little Hope’s online co-op is arguably a more enjoyable way to play the game. I had a ton of fun live streaming it with Matt the other night and if it wasn’t for the fact that you miss out on certain story beats by splitting up all the time, I’d have recommended playing that way. With that being said, I loved my solo playthrough and playing alone in the dark with headphones was the best way to go in my opinion.
By the time credits rolled, I couldn’t help but appreciate what Supermassive Games are doing with this Dark Pictures Anthology. I’d really enjoyed Man of Medan despite its issues and now I’ve almost loved Little Hope, it makes me excited to get my hands on the next tale in the anthology.. The game may only take you five hours to beat but when you’re paying less than half the price of a AAA game and getting a great horror you can finish in one weekend, that’s fine by me. The ending will no doubt ruffle some feathers and I can see a lot of people strongly disliking it, however I couldn’t help but really like it on reflection and it’s already got me planning my third playthrough.
If you don’t enjoy what Supermassive Games do then Little Hope won’t be enough to change your opinion. If you’re a fan of what has come before like me though, then you’ll find a lot to love here. Little Hope may not do many things different to Man of Medan, but it does tell a much better story and for me that earns Dark Pictures Anthology Little Hope