Supermassive Games’ output of interactive narrative horror games lately is, well, super massive to say the least. Hot on the heels of the box office smash hit The Quarry, the studio is preparing to dive back into its anthology series The Dark Pictures with the latest entry.
The Dark Pictures: The Devil In Me is the fourth game in Supermassive’s collection of loosely connected horror vignettes, completing what the studio considers the first “season” of a series that will eventually span eight games. Like the previous three, this is a stand-alone story with entirely new characters and settings, introduced by the familiar Curator character, but otherwise completely different. We were lucky enough to get to see about 15 minutes of the game with a presentation from the game’s director, Tom Heaton.
the devil in me
Like the other Dark Pictures titles, The Devil In Me draws inspiration from a particular horror subgenre or field. This time it comes from a few different sources, with Heaton referencing the Saw movies as well as claustrophobic horror classics like The Shining and Psycho. However, it all starts out rooted in a real-life figure: HH Holmes.
“I was born with the devil inside of me. I couldn’t help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help inspiration to sing.”
–Henry Howard Holmes
The game stars a small television production team, led by one Charlie Lonnit, hard at work on the final episode of a documentary series about famous American serial killers. With no money, no content and no ideas, it seems their chances of securing a second season are slim, but luckily the team gets a mysterious call from an eccentric architect and collector. Claiming to have come into possession of a completely accurate reproduction of HH Holmes’ famous “Murder Castle” hotel located on a remote island, the person he calls invites the team to come and see for themselves.
Naturally, the team has no qualms about swearing to secrecy, handing over their phones, and traveling to a spooky remote location if it means getting their story.
the murder castle
The atmosphere equates to a good horror video game experience, something the folks at Supermassive know all too well. That’s why, for this game, the creepy atmosphere of a 19th century hotel feels absolutely perfect. Kubrick’s The Shining inspirations become immediately apparent as we see footage of the game’s characters navigating its winding, intentionally confusing and claustrophobic corridors.
Then, of course, comes the matter of the HH Holmes-inspired murder. Supermassive’s interpretation of the famous Murder Castle takes what we actually know about the real thing – a staggering number of rooms, intentionally dead ends, maze-like hallways and false doors – and combines it with the psychologically charged traps of the escape rooms. from the Saw movies. While we only get a glimpse of how some of this will play out in-game, it certainly sounds like a winning combo for a terrifyingly scary moment.
An expanded gaming experience
Navigating the hotel environment is obviously incredibly important to The Devil In Me, so it’s worth it that Supermassive has taken the feedback from previous Dark Pictures entries and made huge improvements to the gameplay experience this time around.
The biggest change comes with traversal and exploration, which is much more interactive and flexible than before. Characters can climb on things, slide down ledges, balance on beams, slide through rides, and push and pull objects, just to name a few, skills they’ll need to move and sometimes even hide. of danger.
There will also be a greater focus on puzzles this time around, giving the game a very classic survival horror feel with a dedicated inventory for things like wrenches and tools. Each character will also have their own unique tools, such as a camera or multimeter, which can be altered, broken, lost, or given to others over the course of the game, depending on your actions and choices. Between this and the increased options to traverse, it looks like there will be more life or death situations than ever before, a fact that already has my heart rate racing.
What all of this should add up to is something that, more than before, bridges the gap between the narrative choose-your-own-adventure horror game that Supermassive is known for and a “proper” survival horror experience. Heaton confirmed that the game will also be the longest yet in the anthology at around seven hours for a single playthrough.
What we “saw”
After explaining everything to expect from The Devil In Me, Heaton introduced us to approximately 15 minutes of gameplay from a section of the game, set in an abandoned underground spa area.
In this section, the player is in control of the crew’s Chief Grip, Jamie, accompanied by the cameraman, Mark, and the show’s host, Kate (played by Jessie Buckley, who totally killed him off in Alex Garland’s Men). We immediately get to see the game’s expanded walkthrough in action with Jamie and Mark climbing through the dilapidated compound before falling victim to a trap that separates them from the group.
There wasn’t much in the way of puzzle-solving promised in the game’s preview, but we did see some general item usage and exploration, and it all certainly feels more interactive and malleable than previous titles. The demo ended with two crew members trapped in a Saw-style contraption where only one would be granted air to breathe and escape, a decision that only their friends on the outside, and by proxy, the player, could make.
Did I mention deaths in this aspect of the game? especially scary and horrible? Because they do.
The Dark Pictures: The Devil In Me is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on November 18, 2022.