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Review

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me Review

Don’t dance with the devil

Despite being big on the idea of The Dark Pictures Anthology when it was announced back in 2018, after having played the first two games it’s fair to say they didn’t grab me as I had hoped. Man of Medan was a decent debut for the series, but its follow up Little Hope left me disappointed to the point where I questioned whether the franchise would ever truly be capable of producing great interactive horror experiences. From the outside looking in, House of Ashes seemed to be a step in the right direction, but I missed it after having stepped off The Dark Pictures hype train. Intrigued by the premise of the series’ latest release and finale to the first season The Devil in Me, I finally decided to give the franchise another chance. I’m so happy I did too, as its cast of characters, menacing antagonist and marked gameplay improvements restored the faith I had in the franchise at the very beginning.

The Devil in Me story takes heavy inspiration from the true story of America’s first serial killer Henry Howard Holmes and his World’s Fair Hotel (infamously referred to as the Murder Castle), where he allegedly killed as many as 200 people throughout the 1890s. After a brief introduction to H.H. Holmes and his labyrinthine murder mansion littered with countless peepholes, booby traps, and secret pathways, we’re whisked away to the modern day and introduced to our playable cast of characters, a group of documentary filmmakers who just so happen to be making a show about the deranged murderer.

H.H Holmes has a solid stache

As a collective, Kate the presenter, Mark the cameraman, Jamie the lighting tech, Erin the sound engineer, and Charlie the director form the journalistic outfit Lonnit Entertainment. It’s clear from the get-go that they’re not exactly setting the world on fire with their content, however they are offered a golden opportunity to save their series when they are offered a trip by a man known as Granthem Du’Met to an island featuring a replica of H.H Holmes’ Murder Castle. Desperate to keep his entertainment company alive, Charlie accepts on their behalf and they head off, completely unaware of the dangers that await. 

Mr Du’Met isn’t just as unhinged as his idol H.H Holmes, he’s arguably worse. He’s a remorseless and methodical killer that also has an unhealthy obsession with animatronics, so much so that he finds a way to combine his two favourite hobbies, resulting in pure nightmare fuel. He’s clever and calculated, and makes for a great antagonist to this more grounded and realistic horror story. Even though some of the stuff you see throughout the roughly seven-to-eight-hour journey is terribly messed up, I feel like there wasn’t enough of it on display to truly show off the monster that is Granthem Du’Met.  

Narrative-wise, The Devil in Me tells a very engaging story, largely centring on the mystery surrounding the backstory of Granthem Du’Met. Not often in a video game do I feel the urge to sift through all the optional documents I’ve picked up throughout the journey, yet somehow my strong sense of intrigue to know more about the man behind the little moustached mask had me hooked. 

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The animatronics are horrific

In terms of the core cast of characters, my playthrough didn’t result in a particular stand out, however I did come away feeling that they’re all likeable. If I had to pick a favourite though, it’d likely be Jamie, as she’s a bit of an antagonistic shit stirrer at the start of the game, before becoming less so as I gained control of her. Despite being so desperate for his company to succeed that he is willing to ignore his moral compass, Charlie is also a quality character, and this sentiment applies to each of the five crew members. Unlike my experience in Man of Medan and Little Hope where I felt like characters were undercooked, The Devil in Me succeeds in providing some personality and backstory to the cast. Even in the narrative’s closing moments, I saw some growth in the characters (well, the ones who survived), which was welcome to see also. There’s nothing quite as powerful as bringing people closer together than sharing an evening evading the clutches of a psychotic mass murderer. 

Speaking of characters, they look excellent, as does the game overall on the PS5. As someone firmly in the frames over fidelity camp, I can confidently state that things are still visually appealing when running in performance mode, which lessens the fidelity slightly but bumps the frame rate from 30fps to a far smoother 60 fps. Yes, the occasionally unnatural facial expressions present in prior games are still here, but I feel like they’re almost part of the series’ charm at this point.  

When it comes to gameplay, it takes the foundations laid by the prior three entries and fleshes them out with some welcome new mechanics. Building on from the player-controlled camera established in House of Ashes, The Devil in Me makes use of a traditional behind-the-shoulder third-person camera. The fixed camera present in the first two games were fine, but the decision to go over-the-shoulder was definitely the right move in the long run, as it feels far better when it comes to exploration.

I tried hard to make these two besties

New movement mechanics have also been introduced, such as the ability to run, jump, and climb on particular obstacles. What on the surface seems like such minor tweaks go a long way in making the exploration portions of The Devil in Me more enjoyable, not just through the act of controlling your character, but also the new puzzles that can occur as a result of the updated mechanics. In one instance I needed to get a hold of a trolley I could use as a platform to climb onto a higher obstacle (think Uncharted), but I needed to find a way to unlock the gate in order to free said trolley. They’re very simple activities, but they do a decent enough job at providing something else to do other than just walking around and interacting with collectibles, although I do wish there was a little more variety. 

Each character also has their own personal inventory of items, which can be used to perform tasks throughout the game. Charlie for example can make use of his business card to unlock desk drawers, while Mark can use his camera extender thingy to grab items in otherwise out of reach places. While a neat idea, the character items unfortunately aren’t utilised as much as they could be, making them feel undercooked. 

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The fuse box puzzles aren’t too bad

Love them or hate them, quick-time events are still used throughout the game both in exploration and cutscene instances, however I don’t feel that they’re egregious by any means. The heartbeat QTEs that appear in particularly tense moments and require you to tap in accordance to the heartbeat icons on screen are still as lovingly stressful as I remember. Quick-fire dialogue options will also pop up during cutscenes, giving you both the freedom to portray each character in the way you see fit while still demanding a quick response, keeping interactions honest and authentic. 

Final Thoughts

The Devil in Me is an enjoyable finale to the first season of Dark Pictures series, providing a rich, spooky setting, an engaging narrative, a solid cast of characters, and some much needed improvements to the gameplay experience. While most of the gameplay additions work well, the character-specific items and the puzzles relating to them feel a tad undercooked, and I do find myself wishing that the game indulged in a bit more darkness and gore as befits the subject material. Overall though, it’s still a great time and it’s the best instalment in the Dark Pictures Anthology that I’ve played. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go back and play House of Ashes. 

Reviewed on PS5  // Review code supplied by publisher

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The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me Review
Welcome to the Murder Castle
After a slow start to the series, The Devil in Me is a satisfying end to The Dark Pictures’ first season with its fascinating setting and improved gameplay leaving me excited for the second season.
The Good
Refined movement mechanics
Quality villain
Visually impressive
Likeable characters
The Bad
Character inventory idea seems underdeveloped
Need more gore and scares
8
GET AROUND IT
  • Supermassive Games
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / PC
  • November 18, 2022

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The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me Review
Welcome to the Murder Castle
After a slow start to the series, The Devil in Me is a satisfying end to The Dark Pictures’ first season with its fascinating setting and improved gameplay leaving me excited for the second season.
The Good
Refined movement mechanics
Quality villain
Visually impressive
Likeable characters
The Bad
Character inventory idea seems underdeveloped
Need more gore and scares
8
GET AROUND IT
Written By Dylan Blereau

Dylan is an avid gamer on all systems and believes that console wars are dumb. He owns over 60 amiibo however, which is a bit of an issue. You can find him on PSN @PlushyPants49 and Twitter @GrumpyGoron

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