The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me

I have to admit that Supermassive Games they are great storytellers. The Dark Pictures anthology is proof of this, and the fact that year after year they have presented a new chapter so different in theme and characters is cause for praise. But equally, perhaps due to production schedules, or perhaps a lack of technique or resources, technical advances on the base formula take much longer to notice. As I noted in my final impression, The Devil in Me is more The Dark Pictures, for better or for worse. But “Let’s analyze it a little at a time”.

The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me

As I said, The Dark Pictures is known for touching all subgenres of horror in their games. From stories of ghosts and haunted ships (Man of Medan), black magic, occultism and deep America (Little Hope), to stories of war and monsters (House of Ashes). The Devil in Me is a discordant point, not because it departs from the horror story genre, but because this time it is based on real and documented facts, such as the story of HH Holmes, considered the first (and also the most “prolific”) serial killer in the United States. This bloodthirsty individual is said to have killed more than 200 people in the late 19th century across the country. A figure who has inspired fear and fascination throughout history, and who inspires the group of main characters to embark on adventure.

You play as the team members of Lonnit Entertainment, a small production company in the doldrums who are trying to save their business by shooting the final installment of their serial killer series starring HH Holmes. A mysterious individual, Charles Du’Met, invites them to spend the weekend at his old house on an island on the east coast, where he apparently lives. The building is a fairly faithful reconstruction of the Murder Castle, a hotel that Holmes used as a cover for his crimes and which he has modified to fill with traps and deadly instruments for the guests. Recording the episode there could mean the difference between keeping their job or not, so everyone agrees to go on the mystery rendezvous.

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The Dark Pictures: The Devil in MeThe Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me

Once at the hotel, they gradually find that what seemed like an eerie fascination becomes real, and blood and murder begin to follow one after another. Gradually they discover that this deadly game they are trapped in has many layers and has been meticulously prepared for them. If we want our characters to survive the night, we’ll have to make choices, which can lead to a butterfly effect and trigger different possible outcomes (and most of them aren’t exactly good). This is the premise upon which the series is based, and it is present in The Devil in Me as well. They also bring in the factor of character relationships, and intend that to be an important variable in the story, but the truth is that most of the decisions affecting them come naturally, and with the exception of a couple of critical moments with each, there is no ‘you need to worry too much about this.

But survival does not only depend on our teammates, as we will also have to take the initiative and solve puzzles, perform quick events (QTE) and get all possible clues from the environment. Even the slightest hint overlooked can mean a team member lives or dies, so take it slow… As long as there isn’t a scare that will make you hang from the ceiling light.

The Dark Pictures: The Devil in MeThe Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me

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One of the new features that The Devil in Me introduces to the series is vertical exploration of environments and the use of objects to reach otherwise inaccessible places. They are classics box-moving and climbing puzzles, so if you’ve ever played The Last of Us or Uncharted, you know how they work. None of them are particularly difficult, and the times I felt slightly stuck it was because I didn’t notice that the solution was either in a crack in the wall or somewhere I didn’t realize I could get through. Now the areas through which we advance are larger and, in this case, more complex, as the corridors and rooms of the hotel rotate at the will of our mysterious captor.

This changing landscape also means that we are always on edge, looking for any leftovers or lights that seem to show the way. We don’t know what’s behind next door, but we have to be prepared, and this is where the second major addition to the title comes into play: the character inventory . It’s very simple and only allows up to four objects at a time, one of which is a light source like a lighter or flashlight. Another of the spaces will almost always be assigned to a key that opens a particular door in the same area, and the others range from temporary supplies to the signature item, as I’ve called it. Each character has one of these, and they’re tremendously useful, like a card to force open drawers, a selfie stick to reach tall objects, or a multimeter to check voltage and recover electric current.

When I played the preview I was only able to enjoy a small section of the game, and I thought these puzzle and inventory dynamics would carry more weight into the story. But now that I’ve seen the credits of the game, I feel like neither it’s really exploited, and that they carry less weight than they should have in history. In the end, it turned out to be more of a few isolated moments than a new twist in the game cycle, and I’m a little disappointed.

The story of The Devil in Me could easily be the best of the four we’ve seen so far. Inspiration from major movie sagas like “Saw” and the recreation of a real historical figure set it apart from the previous ones (although there’s always the supernatural element, of course). But also a great story loses its punch if the technical skills aren’t up to par. And there are countless errors in the technical section: teleportation and levitation of characters, lighting failures, the error of not marking a wanted item as unlocked (this error is maintained throughout the series, it seems), not to mention the terrible sound profile. I’ve tried playing with the original English voices and the Spanish localization, and I’d almost say it’s the first time I’ve found a video game dub to be better than the original actors’ work.

And these bugs are not the ones that were fixed in the day one patch (although some were flagged for it), I have to admit that I haven’t noticed any drops in frames or performance and the game runs perfectly on both PC and console , and that my PC is starting to get a bit outdated (an Intel i5 processor with an Nvidia 1070). In case some of the issues I mentioned were due to my hardware, I played a PC and a PlayStation 5 console at the same time and the errors I’m referring to were present in both.

I hope and pray that Supermassive Games continues to work to deliver experiences as immersive and emotional as The Devil in Me. It is clear that when it comes to visual storytelling they have very few rivals in the industry, but perhaps it is time, now that this first season of the anthology it’s over, of setting aside the annual installment release and sitting down and considering how to solve the problems that keep repeating over and over again. Because in the end, not even a great story, no matter how good, can save mediocre gameplay.

The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me – Review