A replica Murder Castle that’s a little too real
Supermassive Games lifted the lid on The Devil in Me, the season one finale of The Dark Pictures Anthology. It’s another standalone cinematic horror adventure game with tough choices to make, and with an intriguing trap-laying serial killer setup, it’s the most promising one yet. In a preview presentation, game director Tom Heaton broke it all down.
The game was largely inspired by H.H. Holmes and the World’s Fair Hotel, better known as the Murder Castle. It’s also drawing from cinema, including the Saw movies, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Psycho, Halloween, and Friday the 13th — look out for “hat tips.”
“We’ve tried to capture that sense of claustrophobia and quiet oppression, that sense of a malevolent building, of an unknown threat around every corner,” according to Heaton.
The story involves a TV production company, Lonnit Entertainment, and its series “Architects of Murder.” The finale is going to be about H.H. Holmes, and with a lot riding on the episode, the team follows a tip about a mysterious collector’s recently inherited estate, which is said to feature accurate reproductions of the Murder Castle’s rooms.
Of course, this is a horror story — the film crew is asked to hand over their phones before entering the “hotel,” and it’s located (where else?) on a remote island. Here we go again.
The major players
The game’s core cast is headlined by Jessie Buckley (I’m Thinking of Ending Things). There’s presenter Kate Wilder, cameraman and ex-boyfriend Mark Nestor, chief grip Jamie Teirgan, documentary director Charlie Lonnit, and unfortunate new intern Erin Keenan. Stranded, they’re up against a “murderous genius who considers killing to be a work of art.”
One of the do-or-die choices presented in the preview video was straight-up “Kill Kate” or “Kill Erin,” so Supermassive won’t be letting us off easy. Heaton mentioned that the kills in The Devil in Me are among the “most gruesome, extravagant, and over-the-top that we’ve ever done.” As they said, they were inspired by Saw and classic slasher flicks.
From the look of it, the game’s intro sequence will star Holmes himself, following the “playable prologue” formula set by prior Dark Pictures games. That should be fun.
More gameplay improvements
On the gameplay front, Supermassive designed the hotel and characters so that there’s a more involved sense of exploration, whether it’s climbing, jumping, or pushing boxes around. Nothing we haven’t seen before in other games, sure, but a notable refinement for the slow-burn cinematic Dark Pictures series, certainly. Best of all, characters can run.
Different folks also have different items, with a purposefully “simple” inventory to consider. Erin has a directional mic — perfect for hearing through walls — while Mark can snap photos to document crimes, Charlie can jimmy drawers with a business card, Jamie’s got a multimeter, and Kate has a pencil, which can shade in paper to suss out clues like that one scene from The Big Lebowski. They can trade, break, or lose their tools.
With that in mind, the puzzles look to be more involved than prior Dark Pictures games, and I am already sweating a maze section. The Devil in Me is going to be a bigger game, too — it’s clocked at seven hours. Man of Medan and Little Hope were one-sitting games for me at about four-ish hours, while House of Ashes took me two sessions to complete.
I’ve enjoyed all of these flawed-but-fun games in their own ways, some much more than others, but The Devil in Me has the most intriguing Dark Pictures setup so far by a longshot. I am so down to be toyed with by a grisly mastermind in their paranoid, trap-filled hotel.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me releases on November 18, 2022, across PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Let’s keep this train rolling.