New release Review

Review – The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes

Review – The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes

Supermassive Games’ production of The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes makes for an enjoyable thrill ride. It is complete with strong characters, a story that makes the player keep coming back for more, two different cuts to experience between the Curator and Theatrical Cut, smooth quick time events and the three new difficulty modes. Whether played alone in the dark or with friends locally in Movie Night Mode or Online, this is a game that is well done from the start to the frenetic finish.

House of Ashes narrative is set in the desert of Iraq where a team of U.S. Marines are sent to a location believed to house weapons of mass destruction for Saddam Hussein’s army. While the team is investigating a site of interest, a group of Iraqi soldiers attack the location trying to protect their homeland from the American soldiers. During this attack they are all swallowed by sinkholes and our American team and Iraqi soldiers quickly discover that there is an even more dangerous enemy and they will have to work together to make it back to the surface alive. The teams are forced to collect themselves and discover the secrets found beneath, defeat the enemy or die trying.


The main characters of this adventure are four Marines and an Iraqi soldier. Rachel King is the commanding officer of the Marines and played by Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical fame. Eric King, Rachel’s husband, is a genius level soldier who has spent the last year developing a new satellite system to find weapon silos in Iraq. Rachel and Eric have been apart much of the year and the tension between them is palpable from the start. Nick Kay is Rachel’s new love interest and has some demons that he needs to work through from his tour in Iraq. Jason Kolchek, Nick’s best friend on the squad and second in command to Rachel does his best to keep the team focused and on point for the mission while trying to bury his past as best he can. The Iraqi soldier, Salim Othman, is just trying to survive his final mission with the army and get back to being dad to his son.


As the mission progresses each character will come to dialogue options that requires a head or a heart reaction along with the option to not say anything all. These will shape the relationships of the characters with each other and affect the available outcomes. Quick Time Events also occur from time to time and the player must accurately push buttons that flash on the screen or aim in the right location and pull the trigger to progress successfully. If one of the these is done incorrectly it can lead to a difficult or impossible road ahead.


Throughout House of Ashes are hidden secrets and pictures to find along the way. The amount of depth added to this title is obvious quite quickly as you pick up the lore-based secrets that expand upon the story. One could argue that the side story of House of Ashes is just as good as the main one, and they tie together seamlessly and explain much of what has happened before the team arrived underground. The pictures that are found along the way show a possible future for a character including death or a scene from the future that the player should watch for to clue them into an important decision coming and hopefully steer them in the right direction. Be on the lookout for all secrets and pictures as some of these also unlock the Bonus Features content from the main menu.


House of Ashes has a minimum of two playthroughs available in the Theatrical and Curator’s Cut, which are both about five to six hours long. The addition of the Curator’s cut gives a welcome amount of depth that the previous games may have lacked from not having. The differences between the two cuts are noticeable and impressive and the attention to detail given to both is amazing to witness. The replay value of this title goes beyond this if the player’s aim is to see all the content available as they push for all the available endings dependant on who makes it out alive.


For the first time in the series different difficulty modes are selectable from the start. The player has a choice between Forgiving, Challenging and Lethal modes. We played through both the Theatrical cut and Curator’s cut on Challenging and tried the other difficulty modes. The difference between Forgiving and Challenging and from Challenging to Lethal is broad enough to matter. Reaction times allowed decrease for each level of difficulty increased to the point where Lethal requires split second thinking and reaction times for success.


House of Ashes is made for next gen consoles and the attention to detail given to both the graphical detail of the monsters and characters is exquisite. The use of lighting to affect mood of the environment as well as the view through the monsters’ eyes is striking. The characters show the wear and tear of the mission inclusive of blood on the face and body if previously injured and in movement if currently injured. The sounds of the game are as intense as the story and are best experienced with headphones for the fullest immersion possible. The music, dialogue and sound effects fit the situation and are extremely well done.


This is an adventure with the option to play solo, with a friend online or up to four other people in the couch coop mode of movie night. The session can be paused in all modes if required for parenting responsibilities or just a break from the intense action. House of Ashes is a horror action game with intense graphical scenes with blood and death at times and should not be played around any kids.

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Rob for One More Game

9 – Amazing – as near to a 10 as you are going to get without it being a 10. It’s an amazing experience that just requires that little something else to make it a masterpiece. Your hard-earned cash and time would be well spent here.

Please click the link here for a full rundown of our rating scale.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes was reviewed on a Xbox Series X and is also available on Xbox One/Series S, PlayStation 4/5, and PC.

A digital code of The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes was kindly provided by the Publisher. Our thoughts are ours and ours alone.

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