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The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes Review

Imagine walking through a tunnel in the underground ruins of the ancient Sumerian Empire. The camera focuses close behind your back, adding to the feeling of claustrophobia and fear as you move awkwardly through the caves. Suddenly you hear the distinctive screams of the famous high school musical diva Sharpay Evans from the front. You know you are facing a heartbreaking battle against some godforsaken terror that will test your skills in fast-paced events.

So it is to play every game in The Dark Pictures Anthology series, and their newest story, House of Ashes, is no different. If, like me, you think, Until Dawn was one of the most interesting games of the last generation of consoles, and you didn’t mind the growing pains of Supermassive Games to collect the series, House of Ashes is the one for you best Working since Until Dawn in 2015. However, if you are bored with the formula or never liked it, the latest story probably won’t change your mind.

In a way, that’s the catch with this entire review. Supermassive didn’t do one, well fixed Changes to the style of play or the appearance of the games outside of the new difficulty options. The face shot is still great for the most part, although the characters’ necks sometimes look like they’re made of liquid. Environments look stunning at times while others will remind you that Supermassive is no longer running on a big Sony budget. The movement is clunky, although we now have full control of the camera while exploring. Most of the gameplay in House of Ashes’ roughly six-hour run consists of making decisions and performing different types of QTEs. It’s a formula Supermassive has used in the last three Dark Pictures games with varying degrees of success, but it still pays off under the right circumstances.

Supermassive hasn’t made one yet

Without spoiling, House of Ashes is a big step in storytelling compared to the two previous games in the Dark Pictures franchise. Both Man of Medan and Little Hope tried to undermine expectations in ways that never felt in the spirit of Until Dawn. House of Ashes swings back the story pendulum and ends with the prospect of a completely new direction for the series. After the revelations at Little Hope, I was intrigued by what the team would do next. It’s not because I’m constantly chasing the excellence of Until Dawn, but because the direction the franchise might take next is as interesting as The Dark Pictures Anthology ever was.

But I don’t want to exaggerate the story. There are still cases of weird stilted dialogue and certain aspects of the plot don’t really pay off. Also, the whole idea of ​​a game set in the middle of the Iraq war with marines going into secret compound to look for Saddam’s biological weapons can be daunting when we know what we now know about the outcome of that particular conflict.

Characters continue to be the weakest part of The Dark Pictures Anthology.

There is also some potential for character arcs that feel either undeserved or severely clichéd. I mean, you can probably imagine what could happen when a young marine and an Iraqi soldier are forced to work together. It can of course change based on your choices, but it never feels like Supermassive is breaking new ground with his character work. If anything, the characters remain the weakest part of The Dark Pictures Anthology, although House of Ashes participants take a small step forward from what we saw in Man of Medan and Little Hope, with Salim being the most notable is.

What House of Ashes does well is what made Until Dawn so special. Supermassive is great at building tension at its best, and it subtly uses the surroundings to help with this. House of Ashes, for example, usually takes place in an underground ruin. Think of movies like The Descent as a solid point of reference. In both this movie and game, the creators use tight camera angles as the characters sneak through tunnels to create an added sense of claustrophobia, which increases the fear factor. You never know what’s going to happen around the next corner, and Supermassive is great at combining both jump scares and other ways to keep you going.

Supermassive is great at combining both jump scares and other ways to keep you busy.

And for fans of the bloody deaths so often seen in horror games, the new difficulty options make the QTEs even more difficult. Of course, you can cut things down to the easy mode for a fun night out with friends. With that in mind, we should mention that co-op is the best way to play these games. Whether in the same room via Movie Night or online, this is a horror that you want to share. If you want to improve things even further and really want to see some blood and guts, the more difficult difficulty options will do it justice. I played mostly on medium difficulty (Challenging) and didn’t have too much trouble, but bumping into Lethal put me to the test – as it should.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes screenshots

In addition to everything else good about House of Ashes, there is one central mystery that is a return to form for Supermassive. After two consecutive mediocre endings with Man of Medan and Little Hope it nailed this one for me. That’s not to say it’s groundbreaking or guaranteed to knock you off your feet, but it’s more in line with what many were expecting from Until Dawn. Plus, the implications for the future of the franchise are more than fascinating. Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that I’m as hyped for the series as I have been since Supermassive first announced it was doing more horror games. If it can deliver what it’s set up, we could be on the verge of The Dark Pictures Anthology becoming a force in horror games.

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