The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope Review (XBOX)

The welcome sign to the titular town of Little Hope

I am a massive fan of horror games. The chilling atmosphere, the creepy noises, the dread of not knowing what’s around the corner; But most of all the fear of potentially supernatural terrors. And as a massive fan of history, there is no greater horror moment from the United States history than the Salem Witch trials. Women burned and hung, prosecuted by the church for supposedly being servants of the devil. And it is this exact scenario that plays out in the newest Entry of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. Down below you will find all my thoughts in my Little Hope Review.

Little Hope (developed by Supermassive Games and Published by Bandai Namco) is the second entry in their horror anthology series. Following a group of students and their professor who survive a bus crash, they find themselves stuck in a tiny abandoned New England town. And it seems the town has a dark history to tell. But is the story able to hold up for the ride or is there “Little Hope” it pushes through? Well, let’s break it down.

Going forward there will be a massive spoiler warning so read at your own risk.

The main cast of survivors in Little Hope.

Story:

So let’s start with the story of Little Hope. The prologue starts in the ’70s with an argument between Anne and James about problems at the factory and issues with their daughter Megan. Anthony and his brother Dennis are talking about vinyl records and different bands as they talk about their sister Tanya. Their father passes out drunk in the living room, while Dennis heads into the attic. Shortly after, Tanya arrives and talks shortly with Anthony about their sister. After a short interaction, Tanya goes upstairs to check on Megan, and Anthony, Controlled by the player, gets to explore the house. During this time we see Anne is in the bathroom and we are now able to interact with the environment.

After a short while, a cutscene will play with Tanya calling out to Anthony. It is during this time that prologue gives players their first taste of the consequences of their decisions. At this point, it is revealed Megan is talking to someone and sets the house on fire using her doll. She leaves it on the counter next to the kettle on the stove. Here we see every member of the family stuck, locked in the house as the fire rages and creates smoke making it hard for everyone to breathe. Slowly we see several of the family members succumb to the fire and the player is offered a choice. To help save Tanya or save Megan.

If you have played any Supermassive game you know the prologue is dark and there is no surviving. Just like in Man of Medan, the family succumbs to the fire as Anthony runs into the inferno after watching his family die before him. And this sets the tone for the rest of the game dark and heavy. After the prologue, we are once again reintroduced to the Curator of Stories, the illustrious narrator of the Anthology series.

After meeting and talking for a bit we meet a bus driver, who is the one who sets our story in motion. Returning from a class trip for some college students and their professor, they are diverted through the town of little hope. Upon entering the bus driver nearly misses a little girl in the street causing a crash. Here is where our descent into horror begins. It is here we are introduced to our group of Andrew, Angela, Daniel, Taylor, and John. Upon entering the town they realized that there is a thick condensing fog that prevents them from leaving pushing them ever deeper into a nightmare.

Here we encounter that the group meets ghosts of the past. And when they meet with these apparitions, they are taken back in time. And here is where one of the game’s biggest secrets is revealed; The group meets their Doppelgangers from the witch trials. They discover that these spirits can take them back to the 1600s and relive key moments of the witch hunts within their town. It’s during these moments that our group can interact with the past at certain moments to influence what happens. But it is during these interactions that lead to the biggest point of conflict with their spirits.

Depending on the choices made for each member of the group they are hunted by the spirit of that doppelganger. The thing that makes these spirits so terrifying is that they take on the form of how they died during the witch trials. And it is these spirits that are the biggest threat to the group. But this all comes to a head in the climax of the story. After the group makes it to the center of Little Hope, they find themselves returning to the burned home of Anthony. Along with finding Anthony’s home, a second twist is revealed depending on what secrets were found. It is revealed that the group is also a doppelganger to Anthony’s entire family.

This twist actually makes the final reveal all the more shocking, although horror trope sin worthy, that everything was not real. The entire experience was all in Andrew’s head. However, it is revealed that Andrew is actually Anthony, who was the bus driver from the beginning. The spirits and demons that he and the group faced were those of his guilt. The spirits were the demons that haunted him since the day his family died in that fire.

Little Hope really captured a unique atmosphere while drawing on inspiration from other horror games. The town of Little Hope had a strong Silent Hill vibe with its neverending fog and decrepit rundown state of being. It kept me on my toes with the ever-present danger and fear of the constant pursuit of the Spirits through town. While every beat in the story was not perfect and there were noticeable tropes used; The story was still a chilling time, with more supernatural and historical horror compared to Man of Medan.

While its writing has been much-improved it does rely on certain tropes that are rather obvious to figure out. But even with certain parts being obvious it takes a unique story approach with its use of demons, guilt, and the witch trials. With that in mind, I give it an 8.5 out of 10.

One of the many potential death scenes for Angela.

Audio:

The audio design in the game is truly phenomenal. While playing the movie night, the sound from tv speakers was truly amazing. But, this is all dwarfed by the clear crisp sounds heard directly from headphones. While playing the game a second time just hearing the soft subtle sounds of the backgrounds truly stand out. The sounds of crickets chirping, the very sounds of water running from the river to the sounds of creaking wood from the old buildings.

Truly these very small and distinguishing sounds help to set a certain mood, creating the right atmosphere. Alongside a truly haunting audio track that helps to keep a tense ambiance the game truly achieves a great balance of atmospheric in-game sounds; And an original soundtrack that creates the perfect tone for the game. Along with tracks from the OST helping to pump up the tension during intense moments and chase scenes.

There was only one major downside to the audio design that I found. is There were instances during cutscenes and dialogue that they didn’t always sync with the characters’ lips. So while they were talking it appeared as if their mouth wasn’t moving or they were talking slightly out of turn and didn’t always match their expressions.

It’s with these issues I give the audio in the game an 8.5 out of 10.

A zoomed-in shot of one of the characters, Andrew’s face.

Graphics:

Now it goes without saying that Supermassive games are talented. And this shows in the quality of their characters. The characters in Little Hope are no slouch, with the mocap and facial animations that are truly stunning. From the glint of the eyes of each character from different light sources to the natural movements of their mouths. Every aspect of the characters is truly beyond words. However, there are small slight noticeable issues, during moments where the characters can interact and pick up objects you can notice pixelation on their hands. These were especially noticeable when picking up magazines or pictures. If you looked at the character’s nails, you can special see the lack of details on the hands overall.

Now while this may go unnoticed by many playing on an Xbox One S or the new Series S this is especially noticeable on the Xbox One X and the all-new Xbox Series X. This is also ties into that sometimes you can see a slight lack of detail on the tips of the hair. Now while these are small things they become more apparent thanks to newer hardware. Along with the fact that this game, on Xbox at least, is optimized for HDR and 4K support.  So these small graphical blemishes will be more noticeable now that 4K is continually adopted.

Along with just how pretty the landscapes and backgrounds are they set the tone that is present throughout Little Hope. With the fog ever-present keeping our survivors on the run and trapped. It adds a very unique element that is both scary and eerie, but also so mysterious and unending. The ground does show some noticeable lack of details despite using higher resolution textures. It tends to show especially with many scenes involving the team having to crawl or climb. Along with the fact that there are moments where you see very bad clipping. Sometimes it’s the objects a character is holding or world objects interacting with each other I noticed many instances. Now while they weren’t the kind to pull me out of the experience they were noticeable.

With the environment creating the perfect background for our horror run and truly amazing character models with absolutely top-notch looks; Little Hope is truly a beauty to look at whether on Last or NextGen hardware. But despite the beauty, there are still noticeable blemishes that only will get better with time.

For this, I give the Graphics an 8 out of 10.

A confrontation between Daniel and one of the spirits that haunt Little Hope.

Gameplay:

The gameplay is always king, and that’s no different in interactive choice-based stories. And honestly, I think their involvement and implementation can be a bigger impact. But, that is where Little Hope truly shines. Having made great improvements from what was in Man of Medan, Little Hope truly moves in the right direction. While many of the changes are small, they are the massive quality of life improvements. These changes not only give a better sense of direction as the series continues.

One of my favorite changes is how you explore an area. Before you would simply look for a bright white spot and click on it and it would allow you to inspect. But now you can still see the white light, but it gives you more accurate descriptions. If you are picking up an item to inspect it will state inspect, if you are trying to open a door it’ll say open. And even better if you’re exploring an area and found everything, some areas will have an exit or an item to progress the story, and it now shows as a row of arrows point right.

This provides more context as to not accidentally leave an area too soon for those who want to explore. Another big change that while small is nice, is now there are directly seen changes to relationships and traits. Before depending on how a character responds or how the answer another character, their relationship can grow or worsen. It can also change the temperament of the character and what traits become more prominent.

Another change I really loved a lot was the changes to the way that the mini-games and QTE events work. Before one of the biggest things to add to the tensions were QTE’s during a chase. And you had to input either a random selection to capture what your character will do in the scene. Now they updated it with a nice change that you will see an indicator of what the action will do before a prompt appears quickly. It gives a much more glance at the actions of the characters but still doesn’t interfere with too much on screen.

But one of the more interesting changes is the change to the keep calm mini-game. In Man of Medan, the player would have to time their button presses with the rhythm the game sets, however, it was only the A button previously. But now they added that this can change as now during these moments it can change from the A button to the Y button and back to A. it makes these moments much more intense and involved then and all the more scary as each segment will keep you on your toes.

Now one of the minor issues I had noticed with the gameplay was the return of the bearings. Bearings are an in-game mechanic that shows certain choices that can lead to certain big events in the game. In Man of Medan, these were in the order of each event as each one happened to lead to an outcome or culmination; However, in Little Hope, these events are out of order. Some of the earlier events get marked as happening later than the events that happened later. This tends to really put the order of events and their climax.

Another issue I have is with movement in this game. The movement has not been perfect for the past few games, going back as far as Until Dawn. My issue is with when you are walking around that the camera has a habit of changing angles; The directions and sometimes this will cause the stick to stay in the direction it’s held. So when you try to actually move it to match with where the character is looking it will result in them moving the wrong way. And even when you reset the stick sometimes they still move and take a minute to adjust and they still move however they want. This is still that has slowly gotten better, but it is still taking a while. I hope this improves in the House of Ashes.

The gameplay has many subtle changes and many Quality of life ones made as well. It still is enjoyable and greatly interactive even with some slight annoyances. It’s with this I give the gameplay a 9 out of 10.

A scene where Andrew is trying to save Taylor from being taken by one of the spirits.

Multiplayer:

Now we get into multiplayer which is a great and weird thing to say in a story game like this. But it is where the game shines in a very unique experience that must be shared. The game offers its single-player mode or play alone, but that is only a small fraction. Its multiplayer was one of the selling points of the Dark Anthology Collection that their tagline was “Don’t play alone.” And with that, the multiplayer actually has two different modes to experience with friends.

The two multiplayer modes are called Movie Night and Shared Story mode. And each of these modes is very different in how the story is presented. In Movie Night mode, you can play locally with up to a group of five friends each taking control of a character. Every player rotates the controller when their character is up and the center focus. With one character for each player everyone’s individual decisions impact the group. With everyone playing within the moment and each having different lines of thinking it is truly a unique and fun experience how it plays out. But what makes this even better is the shared discussion as everyone learns the story and its secrets together in real-time. Having played this mode myself on stream with my friends it was a truly wonderful time.

The alternate multiplayer mode is called Shared Story mode, and this one is only a two-player coop. However, the way this one differs from Movie Night is that it is only an online multiplayer. But both players are playing at the same time. And along with this one player, depending on who they choose, will play an alternate path known as the curator’s cut. In this mode, the experience is a different story. While it may be the same overall it is from a different perspective.

Seeing a different group doing things at the same time as others, or what may have been missed as we focused on only one group without seeing what the others were doing. And at times both players will be interacting together on screen at the same time and at other times be separated into groups. This gives a special aspect to the shared story, as the decisions of one affect the other it can both hinder and hurt the other group depending on the choices made. This makes the trust and bond that much more necessary and also more frightening when playing online.

Both of these modes offer very different experiences with a large group or a single partner. And with so many different possible outcomes between character interactions and choices, the amount of replayability is endless. And with no issues but minor or major to hinder it, the multiplayer experience is absolutely top-notch. It’s these reason that I give Little Hope a 10 out of 10 for multiplayer,

 

Verdict:

With Little Hope, it is a testament to what Supermassive Games has been working towards. Each game is a slight improvement over their last and more quality of life changes as they go. More than anything you can also see their growth in storytelling. But more importantly, they are showing their improvement in gameplay and Quality of Life changes. While it may not seem like much, each change has a big impact. Whether it’s simply changing the design of button prompts to not cover the screen or making them have more visual appeal. Ever since their first foray into the horror stories with Until Dawn, they have proven they can tell modern horror stories. They definitely have found their groove and I think in time it will only get better. I hope they continue to improve and listening to their fans.

With the amount of writing and replayability Little Hope has, I think for people who never played Man of Medan; They are certain to want to after they play this one. With truly beautiful character models and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat, Little Hope is a wonderful entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology. If they continue in the way they are, House of Ashes will certainly be another amazing knockout!

If you wish to learn more about the Dark Pictures series you can visit their official website here. And if you want to read more reviews written by our team you can view them on our site here.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

0.00
8.5

Story

8.5/10

Audio

8.5/10

Visuals

8.0/10

Gameplay

9.0/10

Pros

  • A truly immersive horror experience
  • Great multiplayer options if you want to play with friends
  • Incredible replayability to enjoy the story with multiple outcomes!
  • Visually stunning and highly detailed

Cons

  • Minor audio glitches can ruin immersion
  • Movement controls can sometimes be annoying
  • Story can be very trope filled
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