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The Dark Pictures: The Devil In Me Preview – Art Imitates Death

Time to play game

By now we know what Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology is all about – fusing cinematic horror and the choose-your-own-adventure genre to give the player a level of freedom that lets them drive and shape the narrative how they see fit. The Dark Pictures have always used real figures, events or myths as the basis for the games’ premise, and The Devil in Me (the fourth and final entry in the series’ first season) focuses on America’s first serial killer H.H Holmes and his infamous Murder Castle, also known as the World’s Fair hotel. I was able to get an early look at the game and see what Supermassive Games has in store for the season one finale.

Set in the current day, TV production company Lonnit Entertainment is in need of an idea that will put the company’s documentary series on serial killers in the spotlight. One day the phone rings and an opportunity too good to refuse arises, with someone named Grantham Du’ Met offering the Lonnit crew access to a modern-day replica of H.H Holmes’ Murder Castle to film an episode in.

The roughly 90-minute preview starts just after the crew arrives on the island where the replica castle is located, giving me a taste of how Supermassive aims to expand on the Dark Pictures gameplay formula.

Please enjoy your stay

Like the previous games, the cast is made up of five characters, each of whom have their own role at the company. Charlie is Lonnit’s owner, and appears to be, well, a bit of a prick. Kate (played by Jessie Buckley) is the on-screen talent and a journalist, Mark is the cameraman, Erin is the sound engineer, while Jamie is the team’s technician. It’s clear that the Lonnit team is fairly dysfunctional, with plenty of tension between the members, especially Charlie and Jesse, with the latter believing the former is holding back her career. It makes for an interesting dynamic and one I am intrigued to see play out when the game launches next month.

Each character has their own unique ability thanks to an item related to their role at Lonnit Entertainment, which gives the gameplay a little more variety when playing as different characters. Charlie has a thick business card (with embossing) that would impress Patrick Bateman with which he can pick locks, Erin is able to hear sounds through walls thanks to her sound gear, Jamie has a multimeter that can be used to restore power, Mark’s camera can be used to capture images of evidence, and Kate can jot down codes and other useful info with her trusty pencil.

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My first task involved finding a pack of cigarettes for Charlie, as he was absolutely frothing to punch a dart, and it was here I got my first look inside the hotel, which is jam-packed with creepy atmospheric vibes. I was able to find a way inside the hotel’s bar, where a solitary pack of smokes remained inside an old vending machine. After searching for a way to pry those delicious cancer sticks from their vintage prison, I scrapped together the exact change to feed the machine only for the packet to get stuck. Classic. I then had one last chance to acquire the durries via a QTE but I failed, much to the chagrin of Charles. Moral of the story, don’t smoke.

The Lonnit Entertainment crew

In The Devil in Me, players have greater freedom when exploring the replica murder castle, with characters now able to jump, vault and manoeuvre items (think Uncharted) to access areas that would normally be off limits or unreachable. It certainly adds another layer to the exploration, however I just hope they don’t use this to simply pad out sections of the game.

When Du’ Met fails to show for dinner after allegedly leaving the island, the crew are somewhat concerned, however Charlie insists on pushing forward and to make the most of this opportunity. It’s here I get a look at how some of the unique tools work, with Erin navigating the hallways chasing the sounds coming from several rooms after the power goes out. These moments emphasised the atmosphere Supermassive is going for, with the confined hallways creating a tantalising sense of trepidation as Erin finds herself locked in a room with what appears to be stranger. Erin’s asthma starts to kick up a storm, and the stranger in the dark offers her a puffer, but will you trust the stranger or will you choose to attack him? Jamie, on the hand, is able to restore power, giving me a look at how the game’s puzzles will work. Thankfully they’re not overly complicated (at least from the preview) and feel more like a gameplay condiment rather than the main course, which for this style of game is a good thing.

As the preview reached its crescendo, it’s obvious that the crew has been brought here for something more sinister, with Jamie and Charlie entering a room where they find a person tied up in front of a large swinging axe of sorts, Saw style. Upon further inspection, Charlie steps on a pressure point which activates the axe mechanism. Now he (you) is faced with a dilemma. Move and kill the person tied up. Or see if you can save them. Unfortunately the choice isn’t up to you as an H.H. Holmes impersonator appears and takes matters into his own hands.

To kill a stranger

While the first part of my preview simply set the scene for the events that would follow, the second part convinced me that The Devil in Me was a game that I had to play, even if none of the cast had pulled me in yet. What did pull me in was the excellent atmosphere and the Saw influences, which I am very keen to see how they translate into the gameplay, especially given all characters can live or die. Something tells me that season one may end with a bang.

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The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me releases on November 18 on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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