Witchcraft. Doppelgangers. Cenobite-like demons. Evil youngsters. Inescapable fog. Supermassive Games loves to mix horror tropes and create its personal spin on them for one massive, spine-tingling journey. It’s a part of the studio’s identification and what made Until Dawn such successful. I all the time look ahead to seeing how the staff goes to subvert my expectations. Little Hope is the second standalone entry in Supermassive’s Dark Pictures Anthology, and although it’s a step up from Man of Medan, it nonetheless falters as a lot because it succeeds. Little Hope tells an interesting story, however lackluster gameplay, predictable scares, and efficiency points maintain it again from greatness.
This story is totally self-contained, so that you don’t must play Man of Medan to grasp it. This contemporary break permits Supermassive to discover a brand new setting, characters, and horror subgenres. For Little Hope, you’re launched to a New England city of the identical identify. It has an eerie previous related to the 17th-century witch trials, together with a household from the 1970s that skilled tragedy. When a bus carrying a professor and his group of faculty college students crashes in Little Hope throughout a detour, you understand extra is occurring than meets the attention. Not solely is a fog stopping you from leaving, however your group additionally seems related to the city’s darkish historical past. The new setting instantly pulled me in; not solely is it creepy from the beginning, however the intrigue that holds the thriller collectively is highly effective.
That being mentioned, attending to the story’s greatest moments takes time and endurance. Little Hope is a gradual burn, which means you may have plenty of downtime simply strolling down a foggy path with few clues and boring dialogue. You sometimes go into the sewers, a church, or a manufacturing unit, however the winding street is the primary vacation spot. The journey would most likely be extra pleasant if I discovered the characters intriguing, nevertheless it was arduous to care about any of them. The drawback is that they really feel extra like one-dimensional reactions to a scenario reasonably than being distinctive folks with wants and motivations. It was arduous to get a way of any of them past the few traits listed about them once you begin the sport.
Though the present-day ensemble is uninteresting, their doppelgangers from the previous are a unique story. They pull you again into their time interval to expertise the loopy accusations and concern of witchcraft that ran rampant. I liked the stress of those moments, as you see paranoia manifest you start to query who’s guilty for the way issues unfold (which turns into a wide selection you make). It all culminates in a implausible twist that I received’t spoil, however it’s cleverly carried out and made me strategy my second playthrough in a unique and thrilling approach. Changing your choices on subsequent runs additionally results in new scenes and conditions, like whether or not characters proudly showcase their relationship, or what kind a creature takes.
I want the general gameplay of Little Hope offered the identical pleasure. Despite having a few of the greatest creature design Supermassive has ever carried out, Little Hope nonetheless can’t capitalize on its terrors. The recreation tries to unnerve you, trying its share of bounce scares, however they’re too predictable and over-the-top to work. Addressing complaints from Man of Medan, Supermassive made some enhancements with higher indicators for when QTEs are coming, and now you can press a button to stroll sooner via environments. However, merchandise choice remains to be finicky, and I needed to deal with technical points like freezes and glitches, particularly in co-op.
Speaking of co-op, I had a a lot better expertise enjoying on my own than I did with another person – the other of my expertise with Man of Medan. The story lends itself higher to solo play, as co-op permits solely sure gamers to see particular scenes, which makes it troublesome to piece collectively the entire story. Also, in case your co-op buddy winds up their space first once you’re cut up up, the story strikes forward with out supplying you with time to examine every part. I skilled crashes, dialogue chopping out, and disconnects, regardless of each my co-op buddy and I having stable connections. I hope this facet of the sport will get improved after launch, as a result of it will get in the way in which of following and appreciating the narrative.
Little Hope is inconsistent, like a witch-in-training nonetheless studying the right way to totally weave a spell. It units up its story effectively and retains you guessing, however the execution is missing. It wants extra selection and fascinating issues on your characters to do. The motion comes too late, and by then, you’re already nodding off. However, seeing the implausible ending makes placing up with these boring moments a bit extra bearable.