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The Dark Pictures Anthology: A Review

Dark Pictures Anthology

In Dark Pictures, Choices Matter

The Dark Pictures anthology triple bundle on sale and I decided to give this series a try. This is a set of games in a planned eight game anthology made by the same studio who made the indie horror hit Until Dawn. Like Until Dawn, these are stories about groups of people in certain, dangerous situations where the choices made matter and can have different outcomes. There are many secrets and not everything is as it seems. This trilogy consists of Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes. The stories follow a WWll ship wreck that is more sinister than appears, an abandoned New England town with a dark secret, and a group of marines that end up trapped underground. Each game has a twist and is based on real historical context. 

A standout and unique addition to The Dark Pictures anthology are the different game modes outside of the standard single player mode, there is the Curator’s Cut which is an alternate single player mode, the Shared Story multiplayer mode which allows for two players, and Movie Night which allows for a group of players to go through the story taking turns as the character they choose. 

The central gameplay is largely the same and follows Until Dawn’s formula. Conversations have dialogue choices that dictate actions, there is exploration, there are many collectibles, and quick time events. Any time a quick time event is failed, you are punished. Whether it be minor or major, the game makes sure to have a consequence. You really have to think about the choices you make and use your bearings to assess situations.

Dark Pictures Anthology

I played on a base PlayStation 4 and encountered very minimal issues. The biggest recurring issues I ran into were textures not loading in properly and awkward jumps during gameplay to cutscene transitions or even during cutscenes. However, by no means are the games unplayable. It did not hinder my experience at all. Each game took me about five to six hours.

The graphics, sound design, and music are very good. Everything feels atmospheric and engrosses you throughout the experience. Things are unsettling, creepy, and tension is built very well, especially with the decision making and quick time events.

I enjoyed every story. Out of the three, I enjoyed House of Ashes the most. Each story, even the weakest, is very well told. There are, of course, exposition and scripted cutscenes to move the plot no matter what happens. If you look around in every corner of every area, you will find collectibles that add more to the experience and a better understanding of what is happening on a deeper level.

Due to this being an anthology, there are definitely connections between each story. A huge, very obvious one is the Curator. He is someone who checks in with you periodically, updates you on your progress, offers you hints, and more. 

The acting is standard. There is regular video game voice acting along with full motion capture. Standouts are Ayisha Issa, Shawn Ashmire, Will Poulter, Ellen David, Paul Zinno, and my personal unexpected favorite, Ashley Tisdale. I grew up in the Ashley Tisdale Disney era, so it was very cool to see her have a major part in a video game in the last year. 

To conclude, The Dark Pictures anthology is a very underrated and interesting group of stories with compelling characters, deep lore, and an entire connected universe. I recommend this if you were a fan of Until Dawn or The Walking Dead games. I am beyond excited for the next installment, The Devil in Me coming out at some point this year.

Dark Pictures Anthology

The Dark Pictures: House of Ashes (2021) Official Play Station Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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