The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me

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The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me review
Jordan Helsley


Hollywood horror, warts and all

Supermassive Games returns for the second time in 2022 to continue their light speed game release pace by releasing the fourth (and final for the first season) entry in the Dark Pictures Anthology they launched in 2019. For most companies, annual releases usually result in, at least as far as the gaming public is concerned, re-skinned and uninspired sequels. The Dark Pictures games have done a great job of setting themselves apart from one another while remaining true to the series and offering a distinct experience complementary to their larger game releases. The Devil in Me retains this spirit while also offering an endpoint to the first block of games in the anthology.

Real World Horror

The Devil in Me rides a modern wave of true crime fascination. The inspiration and namesake here is "America’s first serial killer" and real-life con artist H. H. Holmes. You play a documentary crew that is invited to a hotel that is a recreation of the killer's "murder castle" in an attempt at making this their big break. This is the second time the development team has significantly pulled from real events and people to craft their story, but this time they've ditched the supernatural elements, and it is clear that they've invested a lot of time both learning and producing. I'm sure it was no small feat turning the story of a relatively unknown historical figure into the compelling story that they've crafted here, but they've done so masterfully, and I must give extra credit for avoiding the pull of more prolific figures such as Dahmer or Manson.

Rapid Iterations

Like they've done before, players begin the game in the past, to set the stage and give you your tutorial. Immediately noticeable is the refined feel of the gameplay that has been slowly transforming since Until Dawn. It remains the same type of adventure game, but there's a fluidity to the movement that goes a long way, even if it's not quite perfect yet. This prologue also provides clues on just how far their storytelling abilities have come as well. I have long maintained that the series has gotten consistently better at teasing out its mysteries and reveals with every iteration, and I feel that holds true here as well.

Once you're introduced to Holmes' role here and given control in the modern day, The Devil in Me wastes little time showing you what it has to offer, especially in contrast to their previous release less than six months ago. Oftentimes Supermassive games play like an interactive movie, with gameplay sections largely comprised of the modern-day equivalent of pixel hunting in 3D spaces. I was happy to find that they have begun injecting a bit more conventional gameplay, largely by taking more cues from adventure games. For starters, characters now feature a small inventory of their own. It won't end up replete with guns, ammo or tools, but you will end up with enough to tackle the game's larger focus on puzzles, aside from things like a different light source for each playable character. These puzzles start out akin to a Resident Evil game, moving bookcases and searching for door codes, but evolve just enough to set a new standard for the developers going forward. The Devil in Me takes the interactive movie formula and adds a few extra dashes of interactivity.

A B+ Movie

More than possibly any other game they've done, The Devil in Me has the tone of a Hollywood horror movie. It is taken more seriously than the previous entries, and is written to legitimately frighten you. Even early on there were a few sections that were high in creep factor, if nothing else, but this tone begins to fall apart at the performance capture and character writing. The cast is no slouch, led by Jessie Buckley who, among other things, provided a critically positive performance in Men this year, but everyone is written to be despised, it seems. Writing aside, the performances are captured in a way that, at times, feels straight out of the PS1. There were far too many line reads that were clearly recorded out of context for the story to hold up. With both of these shortcomings combined, the classic "life or death" choices that Supermassive is known for fall flat.

Then there's the actual direction of the game itself. Bad dialogue is one thing, but combined with the stilted animations you'll find in many of the cutscenes and the awkward camera cuts it is downright damning. It is enough to overshadow the good, and at times I found myself comparing it more closely to Heavy Rain than any other Dark Pictures game.

High Risk Horror

There is a clear focus on evolving the gameplay of their characters, though. Each one leverages their inventory and differences in an attempt to make sections feel distinct. A particular section early on with a character and her shotgun microphone was quite effective, while another has a multimeter for repairing fuse boxes. They made an attempt to break up the familiar loop they've been using for half a dozen games now, but the ideas are not quite fully formed. This could easily be a focus moving forward into season two, but it could have benefited from making its debut after another year of refinement.

With every chance the game takes there is a misstep that correlates. A good story is brought down by the character writing, gameplay improvements are undercooked or underutilized. Even the hotel, the clear star of the show, cannot withstand the weight of all of the faults.

The labyrinthine hotel does exactly what it is supposed to. It is creepy, scary, somewhat impossible, and laden with death. There is slasher inspiration here, of course, with a touch of Saw, or The Collector. It begs the horror enthusiast in me to be excited while I'm being repelled by so much.

Tripping on their own feet

It is commendable the rate at which the developers have been able to craft these individual stories. Considering the widely branching narratives (that seems no less complex here) there's always been a feeling that The Dark Pictures was handled by the B team, while the A team developed the standalone titles. The Devil in Me has the feeling of a C team development (or D team, if the VR titles have their own?). There's enough mistakes to make the whole thing feel like a freshman effort mistakenly placed at the end of a quadrilogy. The story and the setting deserved better than to be absolutely trounced by the poor quality parts, but given how quickly the developers iterate and respond to feedback there's plenty of hope moving forward. As the bookend to their first season of this experiment, though, they left plenty to be desired.

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fun score


Best setting of the series, compelling story, some of their best horror moments to date, and logical gameplay iterations.


Unlikeable characters, poor acting and cutscene animations