The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
Supermassive Games has established itself as one of the leaders in horror games with strong narratives. Their games all have a specific feel, utilizing typical horror tropes and combining them with moral dilemmas and shocking twists. Last year, the studio started The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of short experiences that give players an annual dose of scares. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is the second game in the series, and while it has its moments, it might be the weakest game by the developer so far.
Little Hope drops players into the town of Little Hope, taking control of four college students and their professor. Their bus crashes and the group needs to go through Little Hope to find some help. Of course, Little Hope is a town with a dark history. Before long, the group is fighting for survival, as they confront ancient witch trials, demons, and even reincarnation.
The characters all somewhat fit into a few horror tropes, but Supermassive Games does a fantastic job of turning these tropes upside down. The characters are introduced to the player with some quick notes on their personalities, including a key character flaw. As the player makes decisions and holds conversations on behalf of the characters, the characters will grow and regress in some ways. Their relationships will improve or worsen as the game carries on too.
The traits and relationships play a bigger part in the game than players would think. The character flaws actually play a key role in the narrative, which is a pleasant surprise. Helping the characters grow will help them survive. Of course, hitting all of the button prompts during quick-time events will help a lot too. If you have played a game by Supermassive Games before, you know what you are getting into. There is a strong narrative, exciting moments, and the usual gameplay mechanics. Exploration is minimal in this one, with small, contained areas hiding collectibles from the player. Even if the game doesn’t feel open, players will still spend a decent amount of time looking for everything that Little Hope has to offer if they want to find them.
Asp intriguing as the gameplay and story are, Little Hope falls short of the greatness that one would expect from a Supermassive Games title. While the writing and voice acting are fine, the delivery of the lines feels off. Characters will have a conversation and there will be small gaps in between lines that makes everything feel unnatural. The immersion is also ruined by some awful animations. The characters are stiff and their movements are often janky. They feel more like dolls than people sometimes. Outside of the animations, Little Hope looks fantastic. The town is eerie and the characters look fantastic.
Most of the jump scares are solid, but some of them are offset by poor setup. The long exploration segments are great for lore, but they also damage the immersion and tension. Little Hope also doesn’t make the best use of its spooky bits. The atmosphere is great, but the monsters that are introduced later in the game are the best part. They have fantastic designs and their origins are pretty interesting. They are underutilized and just when things are exciting, everything ends.
Its shortcomings are a shame because Little Hope has a lot going for it. It’s a short experience, but a memorable one. Everything comes together in the end for one final twist, something that Supermassive Games specializes in. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it’s great for a quick scare over an evening or two.