Supermassive Games’ Dark Pictures Anthology began with 2019’s Man of Medan, and its first season ended this year with The Devil in Me. Overall, the first season of The Dark Pictures Anthology had its ups and downs, but The Devil Inside of Me brought it all together with an engrossing plot, great horror, solid gameplay, and a satisfying ending. Strong endings, regardless of which player earns the money.
In The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me, players take on the roles of a group of documentary filmmakers who are working on a documentary series based on H.H. Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, historically known as America’s number one serial killer, is believed to have killed more than 200 people in an urban myth prevalent in American culture at the time, and the game takes this historically lurid fact as fact. The filmmakers head to a modern-day replica of Sherlock Holmes’ “Murder Castle,” and any horror fan can predict what’s going to happen there.
It’s interesting to see the sheer power of Murder Castle because it’s the perfect, unsettling setting for the franchise. Players quickly learn that not everything is as it seems, and getting lost in Murder Castle is part of the experience. The beauty and lethality of the setting definitely elevates the game, but it doesn’t stop there. There are some other locations that the player can enter, especially in the opening and final scenes, which create a certain sense of dread. Isolation is nothing new in horror games, but Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me’s setting nails it perfectly.
The atmosphere of the set was enhanced which in turn supported the general plot of the devil in me. It’s definitely the best in the anthology, and arguably the best in the horror genre as well. On the one hand, it feels like something written for people obsessed with true-crime TV shows, while the game is inspired by horror movies like Saw, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Shining. It might seem difficult to reconcile true crime with psychological horror and horror movies, but The Devil in Me handles it with aplomb. The result is a fun and scary horror scene that will have players screaming “Don’t go in there!”
To further heighten the horror, players can find Dark Picture collectibles around the map that give players premonitions of possible death, but like any good premonition, they’re not always what players expect. This leaves players debating whether they can trust something as simple as a ship, or whether they should keep an eye out for certain rooms. Even so, it’s not as simple as avoiding X or Y in order to avoid a certain fate. Of course, dying in horror games is nothing new, but losing any character in The Devil in Me is heartbreaking. There is the spectacle of death, but the writing is also great.
In its co-op game mode (including up to 5 players in online and/or local co-op), players will control characters that exist only in the prologue, as well as the main cast : Kate Wilder (played by Jessie Buckley, as this entry’s Star Power), Charlie, Mark, Erin and Jamie. Each character has a different personality, responds to horror in its own way, and is directly influenced by the player who controls them. The attachment is there, and the fear awaits on an emotional level when the player may lose their first character.
As a choice-based narrative adventure game, most of its gameplay and combat comes in the form of QTEs and puzzles. The larger puzzles in The Devil in Me add an interesting factor to the game, but they aren’t necessarily innovative. The same goes for its QTEs. The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me’s QTEs are often used to great effect, highlighting the horror of any scene or driving home to the point where the player is about to be caught, but they are QTEs seen in other Dark Pictures games. They’re not bad, but they’re nothing memorable.
The Dark Pictures Anthology has always been different, and this entry in the series shows how different it is. However, it can also serve as a testing ground for new features that don’t necessarily support My Demons gameplay. For example, one new feature is the character inventory, but these are underused. They are mainly used as keys to find the door and then use the key immediately. Each character has a unique puzzle they can solve using certain character-specific equipment, but these aren’t anything special in terms of gameplay. While the addition of jumping, crawling, balancing, and more adds some nice variety to the franchise, most of these new features feel like the first iteration. Overall, these new Dark Pictures features show promise, but the execution isn’t great here.
That’s the biggest problem with the devil in me. It’s pretty much negligible, but there are quite a few inconsistencies throughout the game. First, each character looks incredibly detailed in one cutscene, almost lifelike in the larger cutscene, but looks like Play-Doh in the equally important cutscene. There are also weird audio bugs that seem to alter the voice of at least one character that we can’t replicate in the game or otherwise. At times, it seems like the player is playing 2-3 different games in Devil in Me, both visually and audibly.
Also, because each character has a distinct personality, it’s entirely possible to make dialogue choices in The Devil Inside Me that make the characters’ actions happen out of sequence, only to be completely undone in the next scene, Or make them act as if they don’t know key information that they certainly do. Again, this sometimes leads to characters acting as if they know something they couldn’t possibly know. And, despite their clearly established histories, these characters often act as if they know nothing about each other. Yet, despite its inconsistencies, technical issues, and head-scratching moments, “The Devil Inside Me” is a lot of fun.
Dark Pictures : The Devil Within packs a mysterious killer, true crime story, horror movie spectacle, and a cast of shy misfits and powerful characters into a plot that feels worthy of its own big-budget film. This will make players question what they know about the killers and each other, and long to dive in again to see other endings, discover more secrets, and try to save everyone.
The Dark Pictures: The Devil in Me will be released on November 18, 2022 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. For the purposes of this review, Game Rant obtained the PS5 code.