From the start of Supermassive Games second title in the Dark Pictures Anthology, Little Hope is a tale of four college students and a professor where the player is wrapped in a weaving web of suspense and true horror that is both intriguing and captivating. The goal is simple, survive the night in the town of Little Hope that is steeped in the history of the New England Witch Trials of the 1600’s. As the characters go through the town they will come upon secrets and photographs that will help to unravel the mystery that is “What happened in Little Hope?” to make it so uninviting and haunted.
The story jumps between three different timelines and forces the player to think about if the actions in one timeline are affecting the other. The game begins with a massive twist to make the player instantly question what is happening. The stories concluding act is an amazing feat to witness and play as it is completely unexpected and a truly surprising ending.
All the characters the player will control in this adventure are different and each will have their own character traits to unlock that are key to surviving and making the right decisions throughout. As decisions are made, the traits and bearings of each of the characters will update and these choices will affect what happens later in the same vein of the old choose your own adventure books. Decisions shape the night and will lead to either a greater chance of survival or death.
Decisions can be made with the heart or with the head and have underlying consequences to both the relationship with other characters or where the story will head down with path and character updates. Make enough wrong decisions and this could lead to an unchangeable outcome and possibly kill off one of the characters for good. Right decisions can lead to an advantage later on which can only be seen once the story approaches the end.
Items and Secrets are also a key portion of the game and the player must explore every area to find both. Certain items are more important than others and can be game changing if not discovered. Premonitions are found through postcards lying around Little Hope and can show some of the possible futures through short video clips. Secrets give little bits of detail surrounding the story and can help the player make helpful decisions down the road.
Another mechanic in the game that affects the outcome are the quick time event moments. This is where the player will need to hit a series of buttons in order to complete a sequence or strategically aim and hit the right button to stave off an enemy. These sequences can make or break a playthrough as far as keeping everyone alive, separating the group or having it stay together for the next scene. Sometimes a sequence, such as hiding from an enemy, will be crucial to survival of a specific character if completed or failed.
In-between the acts of the story the Curator from his library will let you know how everything is shaping up and also if the player missed an item of key importance in the last act that would have been useful later. Later, he will attempt to give one hint that may help the player in their understanding of what has happened previously. It is a choice that can be made or ignored if the player wishes to complete the story without any help.
Little Hope offers a unique blend of imagery and sound effects to really make the scary scenes much more effective. If a character is close to an enemy you can hear the sounds like weapons that drag on the ground, footsteps, creaking body parts and much more. The sound makes the suspense factor lift along with the jump scare moments throughout. The acting and voice acting is well done and Will Poulter’s performance for three separate characters stands out as a highlight throughout. The environment is a fully immersive experience for the six to seven hours that it takes to complete the story. From the impenetrable fog guiding you throughout the town to the zero HUD experience, this feels like a movie that the player controls the outcome of.
Lighting effects are also extremely key, especially due to the fact that the player is using a flashlight throughout to find their way. The right thumbstick controls the camera movement and the player’s flashlight direction.
Little Hope is not a game to be played with children. It has way too many intense scenes and imagery for kids that are under the age of fifteen. The way in which the characters can die is brutal and not for the faint of heart either. The tone of the New England Witch Trials topic also can lead to many questions that a parent would not want to answer with a young child. The player can also pause at any time if they are interrupted.
The online-shared story and couch coop movie night modes are great for multiplayer storytelling for up to five people. The player can invite one more online player to complete the story with or bring four friends over for the five-player movie night mode. Movie night and Shared Story allow for new decisions and perspectives of the game to be seen that are new content from the Solo Story mode. This along with the included Curator’s cut leads to massive replayability as the content changes based on your decisions throughout. The player will need several playthroughs to see the full storylines as some characters may not make it to the end in some sessions based on decisions or quick time event actions going wrong.
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.
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The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope was reviewed on an Xbox One X. It is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam.
The publisher kindly provided the code for this game. All thoughts on this game are ours and ours alone.