the Dark Pictures anthology is a series of horror adventure games developed by developer Supermassive Games, with each game being a separate title set in a different location. It started with Man of Medan and then went in to another story A little hope. Each title in the series has its own story, but all of them are brought to you by The Curator (played again by Pip Torrens) in his fantastic library with his British accent and butler-like demeanor.
He speaks to you, the player, on a personal level, as if you were hanging out with him in his own room. It is the same for all games Dark Pictures anthologyhow each is presented to you. It’s a unique aspect that gives the series almost never-ending access to a vast library of possibilities. Welcome to another story from the huge bookcase in the corner. Welcome to The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes – A Sumerian story
Their journey begins around 2250 BC. In ancient Mesopotamia and somewhere within the borders of present-day Iraq. This civilization is plagued and its king believes that only the blood shed by people can appease the gods who condemned them. In a sacred Sumerian temple, people are sacrificed to these gods while the armies of other ancient civilizations break down their doors to try to prevent the sacrifice of their people. It is a backstory for our modern history that will culminate some four thousand years later in the war-torn country that is now Iraq from 2003.
Saddam Hussein was hiding in a hole somewhere and the CIA was on a hunt for his weapons of mass destruction which they certainly believed he was hiding. The CIA’s chief technician, Lt. Col. Eric King (Alex Gravenstein) of the US Air Force, had developed satellite-based software that used ground penetrating radar to search for underground deposits, and he was certain he hit the jackpot somewhere in the tribal areas had cracked near the Zagros Mountains. What he actually found was not Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, but something much more deadly that was hidden deep within the ancient Sumerian temple mentioned above.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes – The characters
Similar to previous entries in the Supermassive catalog, House of Ashes is a character driven story, and since each character’s fate is determined by your gameplay, the developers really needed some strong characters to attract you. They found her in CIA officer Rachel King (Ashley Tisdale), her husband Eric King, USMC Force Recon Marines First Lieutenant Jason Kolchek (Paul Zinno), Sergeant Nick Kay (Moe Jeudy-Lamour), and Iraqi Army Lieutenant Salim Othman (Nick Tarabay). Each character has their own unique traits that can be changed through decisions made during the game. Will they be careful or jump straight into a bad situation? Will they think with their hearts or will they rely on common sense? Will your choices kill them or keep them safe? Will they always think of themselves first or will they be more altruistic?
The gameplay and interactions between characters not only attracted me, but also connected me to them. So much so that I didn’t want them to die and play through the game multiple times to get the result I wanted. When we were first introduced to the Iraqi LT, we saw him as a father and family man with teenage problems, but his first encounter with the other characters saw him as an enemy fighter at the other end of a war and a gun at the end of business life. Can you swallow the fury of war and work with someone who shot you before, knowing that they are not only a soldier but also a father, simply follow orders of a higher rank? These are the types of questions the game asks, and your choices will completely determine the outcome of everyone involved.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes Review – Multiple Endings
House of Ashes has an incredible number of storylines and over 60 unique deaths, all of which are determined by the choices and outcomes of your gameplay. The end achieved is then determined by who lives and who dies during the game. The curator has a candelabra with five candles, all of which are lit when you start the game and represent the life light of each character. During my first two rounds, my main goal was to keep those candles burning, and I even took notes on my phone so I could remember my decisions. Quick Time Events also come into play, but unlike previous games, you can change the difficulty level to give yourself a better chance of success. Failure cannot happen, but sometimes failure is the best option. Some of the QTEs can also create a moral dilemma and you have a choice of whether or not to pass, the outcome of which may have an impact on the path.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes Review – Next Gen Gorgeous
The first two games in the series didn’t look bad on the PS4 Pro, however House of Ashes on the PS5, she really excels in graphics, animation, and general environmental details. Facial animations were captured and used to give the characters a lifelike appearance when interacting with one another or even reflecting on themselves. Occasionally the eyes look a little weird and seem to be staring in the wrong direction and take off the overall effect of some of the cutscenes, but this isn’t a game breaker, just a little daunting. If they could hit the eye animations, it could be difficult to tell the difference between FMV and in-game cutscenes. To make it clear House of Ashes doesn’t use FMV in any form, but they’ve achieved almost the same depth of motion and animation with the next-gen system and their 3D work.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes – An evolving franchise
Developer Supermassive Games listened to the players and took their feedback to heart. I mentioned adding difficulty levels to the QTEs before, but they also made some other changes based on player feedback. House of Ashes does not use a fixed camera, but rather a 360 degree camera controlled by the player. This gives the game a more personal feel as being able to control the camera is a big step in the right direction. They also added a flashlight or personal light source that can be turned on and off. This was often handy as I worked my way through dark catacombs in a seemingly endless underworld.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is an impressive addition to the series that not only looks stunning on the next generation, but also plays out in multi-player scenarios that can vary from triumphant to downright heartbreaking. It’s a dark journey through horror and blood where only you (and maybe a co-op friend) can determine who can make it on the other side.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes review code provided by the publisher. Reviewed on PS5. Please see our Review Guidelines for more information.