The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope gives me a little hope for the future of Supermassive Games’ horror series. Some smart gameplay tweaks ensure that Little Hope still highlights Supermassive’s vital role in the modern adventure space, but it also highlights why the studio’s future games need to be better than this for those smart changes to really shine.
Little Hope, like its immediate predecessor Man of Medan, is a mashup of horror tropes and subgenres. It borrows iconography from The Blair Witch Project. It borrows its Puritan-era paranoia from The Witch (and Arthur Miller’s non-horror play The Crucible). And its conceit, which finds a group of college students and their professor stranded in the woods after their bus crashes, hangs on a premise that will be familiar for fans of Stephen King’s The Mist or John Carpenter’s The Fog. As the game progressed, I became increasingly skeptical that those threads would come together in a satisfying way. In the end, they don’t, but I still had a good time on the ride to that disappointing conclusion.
Little Hope begins with a flashback to the 1970s and a brief introduction to a troubled family of six. Dad is a heavy drinker. The older sister feels isolated and depressed. And, in a hint at the spiritual warfare that will dominate much of Little Hope’s second half, the younger sister has been held back repeatedly after church to speak with the reverend. These glowing embers of drama soon blaze up into a literal raging fire when the younger sister leaves her doll on the stovetop. In the ensuing blaze, every member of the family meets their grisly demise, save Will Poulter’s Anthony, who helplessly watches on.