A thrilling co-op experience that will keep you guessing.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Until Dawn from Supermassive Games was a thrilling and often frightening foray into the compelling horror that only they could execute on so soundly. After Until Dawn came their next best attempt at offering thrills and chills to the player, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. Man of Medan was a competent horror experience that was marred by slightly restrictive camera angles, a predictable story, and a few gameplay mechanics that were just a bit lacking.

Learning from their time with Man of Medan, Supermassive Games is back with The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. This second entry, though sharing part of its name with its predecessor, is its own self-contained horror experience. Though it is its own thing, a significant portion of its DNA is shared not only with Man of Medan but with Until Dawn.

Little Hope still thrives upon subverting player expectations to give them a fright. The plot is far less predictable this time, for better and for worse. Though I will stay away from naming specifics here purely because games like the Man of Medan series and Until Dawn thrive upon its story beats. I will say that the game is set in modern times. It opens with a bus crash that finds five passengers stranded in the town of Little Hope. Little Hope itself can easily be considered a character all its own due to its rich history involving witch trials not unlike those that plagued Salem in the late 1600s. Though the story is mostly well executed in Little Hope, some of the moment to moment story beats are often disjointed, made worse by some very odd and abrupt dialogue hiccups.

Sadly, the camera angles in Little Hope are just as annoying as in Man of Medan, with abrupt camera switches causing a bit of confusion when they occurred. This is especially concerning when player movement is based on where the camera is facing. This caused my co-op partner and I to sometimes pause our movements just to readjust to the new camera angle that was presented to us.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Ah yes, speaking of co-op, this is where The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope really shines. Much like in Man of Medan, this game features simultaneous co-op where you and a friend can play different characters at the same time. Sometimes you will be together in the same scene, other times you will both be off doing different things at the same time. You cannot see nor hear what your friend is doing at these splits, which adds a fair bit to the mystery and mystique to the plot. It also lends itself nicely to additional playthroughs where you assume control of the side you did not get to previously experience to fill in those gaps.

There are plenty of thrills and chills in Little Hope. The game does an admirable job of building up the tension over time before throwing a few scares in your face, sometimes literally. Even during some of the "down" periods of the game, you are still left wondering if you heard something or saw something for a split second. Was it your imagination or was it a trick of the game? It is in these moments where Little Hope is at the top of its game. Threats introduce themselves slowly over time, which really ramps up the tension. And that is what I like in a good horror game: Tension. If the tension is not there or if it's thrown in your face nonstop, it just does not make for a great gameplay experience in my book. I did not have that worry in Little Hope.

One major complaint players had with Man of Medan is how it sprung quick time events (QTEs) at a heightened rate at the player. They were often unpredictable, and many players faulted the game because of that. Supermassive Games remedies this in Little Hope by telegraphing upcoming QTE events before they occur. Sadly, this was not explained initially, and my co-op partner faltered a bit during some of the QTEs because hitting any button before it was time to do so would automatically fail the event. Even still, this is a major step up from the ones found in Man of Medan. As the game progresses, these quick time events give you far less time to react, which is great for keeping you on your toes. To survive, you need to be fast. It was not an abrupt escalation, but rather an escalation of speed that felt perfectly paced out.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Like other games from the studio, Supermassive Games once again places a big focus on branching storylines. There are many variables at play as you make your way through the game's overall story progression. This almost guarantees that no two subsequent playthroughs will play out in the same way. Choices that you may think will not have a major impact may end up being a choice between life and death. You simply will not know that a choice you just made, or one made hours ago, would end up having a horrifying repercussion later down the line. Likewise, you also do not know if a choice your co-op partner made will have lasting consequences on your shared gameplay experience. Co-op really does add that extra level of mystery to an already mysterious story and I kind of loved it for that.

Overall, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is far closer to Until Dawn than Man of Medan was. It is a horror movie wrapped in a video game shell that makes for a thrilling, tense, and frightening experience whether you are playing solo or with a good friend. Thanks to the branching story beats and dialogue options, Little Hope is a horror game that lends itself nicely to subsequent playthroughs. This level of replayability is something I would like to see more of in the genre moving forward. I can safely say that my co-op pal and myself are already looking forward to the next entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology, House of Ashes.

4 out of 5 stars

Additional Information
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope
    • Developed by: Supermassive Games
    • Published by: Bandai Namco
  • Price: Starting at $29.99 (USD) via Steam
  • Platform reviewed on: PC
    • Reviewed on: i7-6700K, 32GB RAM at 2666, GTX 1080 Ti, and installed to a Crucial MX500 1TB SSD
    • Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Release Date: October 30, 2020
  • ESRB: M for Mature 17+ (Blood, Intense violence, Strong language)
  • This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.