The Dark Pictures Anthology the Devil in Me Review

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When The Dark Pictures Anthology was revealed, its promise was immediately obvious: Take the team that gave us the excellent Until Dawn and have it tackle new horror subgenres at a clip of about once per year. Results have been mixed across the four released games, but on a steady upward trajectory that does not falter with the effort. The Devil in Me is Supermassive slasher, and it outshines its predecessors–with a more cohesive plot, best-in-series characters, and a bit of clever gamification injected into the experience.

The Devil in Me takes us to Chicago, first at the turn of the 1900s to introduce–or, for horror fanatics, more likely remind us of–H.H. Holmes, sometimes dubbed “America’s first serial killer.” Holmes’ “murder castle” was in fact a hotel that he had outfitted to operate as more of a maze of horrific contraptions that could make Jigsaw’s works look like Mouse Trap. After a short flashback, the game jumps to the present day and follows an indie film crew making a documentary about Holmes.

To their excitement, they’re invited to a scale replica of the killer’s ghastly hotel that doubles as something of a museum where they’re promised footage and exclusive background information. As it turns out, the curator of the grounds is less than well-hinged himself–who could’ve guessed?–and what unfolds from there is roughly five or so hours of quality slasher material.

Each game in the series has put a familiar face in its small cast, and for The Devil in Me, it’s Jessie Buckley, fresh off the polarizing Alex Garland body-horror film, Men. While that could be called “elevated horror” by those who like the term, The Devil in Me is–like all of The Dark Pictures–a more traditional blood harvest, and it works because Supermassive understands that.

The Devil in Me solves for many issues its predecessors struggled with to varying degrees. Its characters are likeable, which hasn’t always been the matter, and more important than that, they’re given time to breathe early on in the story. By the time their lives areened, I found myself caring for them for reasons that went beyond just wanting to gone the game’s many quick-time events. The game’s demanding decision points carry more weight as a result. It’s one thing to unlock a Trophy for keeping everyone alive. It’s more interesting and rewarding to persevere because you genuinely wish them well.

The Devil in Me also expects you to keep in mind what you’ve learned about each character in ways that bring you closer to them. One character’s asthma is used to great effect several times and in different ways, always demanding that I reminded myself of her ailment and understood how that might uniquely change any given life-or situation for her. There are some really clever kill scenes in this game, and Supermassive continues to make them feel fair. A good horror story probably doesn’t see everyone surviving, so when I did lose characters, I was glad to feel as though they were my mistakes, not the result of murky win scenarios.

Another improvement comes in how The Devil in Me unexpectedly takes a step back from the series’ normally stringent movie-like qualities. It’s still a highly game where the bulk of the gameplay comes in making choices with little time to think things through and succeeding at blink-and-you’ll-miss-it QTEs where failure often means.

However, there are a few puzzles mixed into this one that give it more traditional gameplay, and there’s variety in how you solve problems, like scavenging for items that might save lives at some point in the unknown future. Each character even has one or more unique items, like the audio technician being able to use a portable boom mic and headphones to hear things better, or the camera guy who can photograph crime scenes to–ideally–turn into the cops when he survives.

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