Interweb Adventure Log

Media Exploits in Cyberspace

Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope

Little Hope is an Interactive Survival Horror Story game developed by Supermassive Games and released October 30th, 2020 on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. Much like the previous entry, Man of Medan, Little Hope is an installment in the Dark Pictures Anthology. Initially slated for MUCH earlier this year, it suffered a delay – likely due to the present COVID pandemic. It’s unclear whether Supermassive Games is back to anything resembling a 6 month production schedule for future installments – but it’s sequel, House of Ashes, has been slated for a 2021 release.

Premise

Little Hope shares space with Man of Medan in the Dark Pictures Anthology. As such, we pay another visit to the Curator (played by Pip Torrens). I speculated that perhaps the player was telling the story and the Curator was providing his feedback – something the Curator explains more this time, explicitly stating that you’re completing an incomplete story.

This time, we follow the exploits of four college students, Andrew, Angela, Taylor, Daniel, and their professor, John. When their school trip takes an unexpected detour, they find themselves stranded in the derelict town of Little Hope. Though, long abandoned, they are far from alone. Can our class figure out what’s going on and escape before this ghost town spells their doom?

Gameplay

Much like it’s predecessor, Little Hope markets heavily in QTEs and exploratory sections. The mind or heart dialogue and action choices that you select using the right stick return – as do the heartbeat QTEs and the ability to play the whole game by yourself or with others in the “Theatrical” and “Movie Night” modes, respectively.

Essentially, the mechanics you’ve familiarized yourself with in Man of Medan are still here.

What Works

Atmosphere – And, HOOOO BOOOY, does it. Much better than it’s predecessor, I’d say. Man of Medan took it’s sweet time getting to the spooky stuff and once it did, it sent it’s crew (and, in the process, stretched said spookiness) in a few directions too many. Little Hope wastes no time getting to the spookiness and the pieces surrounding it (the town, it’s history, the fog, etc) and how it manifests itself to the characters is much more cohesive.

Mechanic Updates – The heartbeat QTE has been updated to alternate between buttons between sections. Other QTEs now have location and type indicators that appear before the prompt itself. Interactive items still glow when you get close, but interactions that involve changing areas have a special indicator as well. The name of the game with these changes is giving the player more contextual information. No harm done as none of these lessen the challenge. The QTE time windows are deceptively small. In Theatrical Mode, at least, QTE segments will need to be completed for multiple characters consecutively. The pause/slow motion pan between characters when that happens is a nice aesthetic touch.

Devil’s in the Details

“Uhhhhh, is that it?”, you ask. Well, kinda yes and no. The vast majority of the mechanical stuff is practically the same. So it’s the same as Man of Medan? No, not at all. I’d posit that Little Hope is better. The atmosphere and over all feel is much better. There’s probably a few less jumpscares, but they are scare chords accompanying things that feel thematically relevant; things that SHOULD scare us. The same pieces (or the same KIND of pieces, I guess) are in play, but the Devil’s in the details here because it all just feels so much better.

The Little Hope Experience

That being said, Little Hope is its own kind of experience and I want to offer some insight on what the actual process of playing the game is like. And I’m going to do it using pictures. Don’t mind me ugly mug.

You pop the disc in, the Curator introduces himself (uhh…dude, we just got done with a story, you KNOW who I am) and pulls the book for Little Hope off of the shelf. You get the standard prologue where disaster strikes and controls and mechanics are reintroduced. The curator assures you, the perfectionist gamer in their most astute and focused state, that there was nothing you could’ve done about what you just witnessed (translation: don’t replay this part). You then meet the new characters, a small group of college students and their professor. Misfortune strikes and everyone is isolated in the middle of nowhere (Little Hope). Nothing out of the ordinary. So far, so good, right?

oh no. PLEASE GOD, NO. It’s the return of the Walking (until you wish you were) Dead segments.

This is NOT what you signed up for. This is the WORSE part of SMG games. So why are we starting with this. The spooky stuff I’m seeing? Good. All of the walking? Bad.

But then you get near town.

…and BOOM! We’re off to the races. We’re in spooky town and it’s getting super spooky. The fog is acting up, people are getting scared, everyone is fighting for their lives.

There’s still walking exploratory bits, but the spooky to walking ratio is heavily in spooky’s favor. This IS what you signed up for.

Now, you’re going to be having a good time trying to not get murdered and, uh, well…..you’re going to get vibe checked. The game is going to go out of it’s way to give you a wake up call about how things ACTUALLY work this go around. This is gonna be one of two possible points of contention players may have with Little Hope.

I personally was taken aback, but I was ultimately kinda impressed SMG would do such a thing to begin with. Certainly keeps things lively.

None of this going to stop your fun – you’ll still be avoiding apparitions, uncovering clues and trying to hold the group together the best you can. The curator will pop in as he is wont to do at times and urge you along in his normally playful demeanor.

But, of course, the game isn’t content to just let you do that. If you were wrong once, you can be wrong again – and BOY, were we wrong. The second common point of contention (the revelation about Little Hope), unlike the first gut punch, DID get my goat. Like a rock wall, it got A LOT of people’s goats, apparently.

And I can definitely understand why. Initially, the revelation about the events in Little Hope is…..demoralizing.

That’s because you had your own ideas; workable ideas. But what’s presented to you is workable too and the more I thought it through, the more I could see the connections.

It’s a SMG game for SMG gamers, people that have been playing their games for the last 6 years and have their own preconceived notions of what the mechanics are and what the story beats are. Whether you continue to enjoy Little Hope post-revelation(s) is contingent upon how well you can make the necessary paradigm shift; how well you can let it recontextualize what the actual thematic underpinnings of the game are and what that implies for the gameplay itself.

In Conclusion

Supermassive Games caught our attention in 2014 with Until Dawn. It was an interactive horror cinematic experience that was the sole reason I bought a PS4. It didn’t disappoint and they’ve been chugging along all the while since. I’ve found myself repeatedly asking a singular question in the interim: “Why won’t Supermassive just make Until Dawn 2 already? The ending was open enough to allow for a follow up title.” But if I’m honest, that was never necessary…

..and for the first time in the last six years, this is something I FEEL instead of just knowing in my brain. I don’t even WANT an Until Dawn 2, anymore. Little Hope is the best experience I’ve had with a Supermassive Game since Hidden Agenda. It’s also the one that’s done the best job of recapturing that spirit (for the most part). If I’m going to get more smaller, but tighter experiences like the one I got in Little Hope, then I’m happy.

I give Little Hope 4.5 Dolls out of 5 though Your Mileage May Vary


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