This review will be filled with criticisms about the latest installment in The Dark Pictures Anthology. The story contains connections and ideas that don’t always pay off, an ending that feels like a cheap trick, and it crashes multiple times in a single playthrough. So, why is it still a decent game, and why am I still looking forward to playing the next one?
Little Hope’s opening prologue is excellent and makes a fiery impact. After watching a troubled American family in the 70s, things quickly spiral out of control, and I won’t spoil the rest. If you have seen any previews, you know that this is only one of the game’s settings. We see witch trials in the 1690s and a modern-day group of college students take up the majority of the plot.
The students and their professor are stranded in Little Hope after a bus crash. As you guide them through the ghost town, they will learn the dark history of Little Hope and try to escape what the Curator calls “eternal damnation.” The setup is solid and satisfying, but it fizzles out in an ending that feels like you’ve been cheated. The journey is decent though, and the ghosts/monsters are delightfully creepy.
You’ll be learning about and dodging those demons throughout the game. For this entry, the developer has added an on-screen indicator that tells you when a QTE is coming, so you won’t sit through a three-minute cutscene and miss a simple push of the “X” button that could have kept one of your idiots alive. It’s a great addition to the game offset by the realization that all of the cutscenes are not skippable. It’s a terrible choice that bogs down replays.
Those replays allow you to make different decisions. I went with my gut the first time, and I tried to choose the opposite my second time. My second time was much better further proving that, just like George Costanza, I should choose the opposite of my instincts to be happy.
Even though I tried to zig after zagging my second time, the overall narrative didn’t change that much. This is a journey from A to B, and you only influence a few things on the way, especially the relationship indicators between your little band of lost souls. The bigger changes were because I kept all of my people alive, and they contributed to parts of the story this time. This isn’t a pure negative, because I received two different endings. The twist was still disappointing for both.
I played on the PS5, and the visuals were very good and improved from Man of Medan. My single favorite feature was how good the eyes looked, but it’s not perfect. There are still visual artifacts here and there and some slight pop-in.
The audio is better, but it can still improve. The voice-overs just need a bit more clarity, and they will be on par with some of the best. The voice acting had some ups and downs, but it was mostly good. The environmental audio is normally good at keeping that tension tight with sounds in the forest and making you believe something could be right behind you. The volume spikes with the jump scares could be a little less, but it was effective.
The biggest technical crime is how this game crashed, and it’s unacceptable. Little Hope is not a long game. It’s maybe four hours, and the game crashed multiple times. It crashed at least three times (over two playthroughs) in the same area. One of those crashes corrupted my save file during my first playthrough, and here’s where skippable cutscenes would be handy. Fortunately, I was able to download my last save from the cloud, so I didn’t lose that much progress. I didn’t play this game on the PS4, but a quick google search tells me this isn’t a next-gen problem.
There are some other minor issues. Little Hope drops some big hints on who the Curator is, and I’m looking forward to continuing his story. There are also times he just seems to drone on without telling you anything important. These infrequent breaks start to feel like padding instead of interesting interactions.
Despite not showing the seams on the story as much this time around, Little Hope told me about a scene I knew had happened in an earlier playthrough. I assumed I wouldn’t see it because I saw a different scene. Nope. It then proceeded to show me the same scene it had just told me had already happened.
Finally, the game broke one of my Cardinal Sins – character name consistency. In the prologue, one of the characters is called different pronunciations of Tanya. The same character pronounces her name differently in the space of a few minutes, and it drives me insane. Make you your mind. It doesn’t ruin the game, but I hate it with a burning passion.
With all those issues, I still had fun with Little Hope. It’s the drug I was hoping for when I bought it with its scares and character choices wrapped up in a horror cliché. It’s still not the Until Dawn dragon I’m chasing (although there is a cool Easter Egg), it has a serious technical problem that should never happen, and it has a few other smaller problems that can be fixed in the next one. I don’t regret playing it, and I’m ready to look past some small issues when I buy the next entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology. No one else does this kind of thing, and it’s the kind of thing I want, unless it corrupts my save file.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope PS5 Review
Overall - Good - 6/10
Little Hope delivers on the promise of giving me a scary journey even if my decisions didn’t make a huge difference, and the destination is a big disappointment. I have a bunch of little nitpicks, but the game crashing isn’t a little problem. Despite the problems, I still managed to have fun, and I’m hoping to see even more improvements when the next one releases in 2021.
- Great beginning
- Audio and visuals are mostly solid and improved from Man of Medan
- Game crashes and corrupted saves are unacceptable
- Decisions didn’t make a big enough impact
- Ending feels like cheap
- Pick a single way to say “Tanya!”
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Reviewed using PS5.