Little Hope is the second game in The Dark Pictures Anthology series. Created by Supermassive Games, the franchise is meant to be an expansive horror anthology spanning eight games. While the various titles take place within the same universe, each is a separate story. The developer has said that they envision every game exploring a different element of horror.
With Little Hope, Supermassive focuses on witchcraft across multiple timelines. There are also several gameplay improvements following feedback from players. But the game still falls short of being a great horror experience.
Little Hope starts with four college students on a field trip with their professor. A series of unfortunate events lead to the group having to stop in a New England town. In this fictionalized history, Little Hope was a hotbed for witch trials during the 1500s. It, therefore, has some connection to supernatural elements that slowly become more prominent. From this moment on, flashbacks help the player understand the history of the town. The group largely experience life as former residents who have met horrifying ends.
Like its predecessor, Little Hope isn’t a game that relies on jump scares. Instead, it’s a slow build that takes obvious inspiration from other psychological thrillers. The narrative builds up suspense deliberately over time. The developer also tries to avoid the over-the-top antics of other horror games. But the serious parts are simply not all that interesting. Ultimately, the story ends up being rather predictable and fails to properly engross. That doesn’t stop it from doing a job and it’s entertaining enough, especially given the short length of the game. Just don’t expect anything groundbreaking or a story on the level of a Stephen King novel.
On the plus side, a major improvement in Little Hope compared to Man of Medan is the cast of characters. Most of them in the original game were unlikeable and difficult to relate to. This made their choices and actions seem even stranger than they were. Little Hope gets around that problem by using an array of individuals who seem very human. What that means is that it is easier to emphasize with them and get more involved in their lives.
In terms of gameplay, Little Hope will be familiar to anyone who has played a horror game in recent times. Players have to explore environments and make decisions as to how to proceed. This can be in conversations with other characters or deciding in normal gameplay. You also have to keep an eye out for clues and other important information. Most of the challenge comes from trying to keep the character alive. Any choice could lead to the death of a member of the cast in a single moment. Even if you do nothing “wrong,” a character can still permanently perish. This time around, though, the choices just don’t seem to have the same sort of weight to them.
The rest of the gameplay is made up of quick-time events. You’ll often have to press buttons following prompts on the screen. This is where the skill comes into the game, adding some proper gameplay into Little Hope. One really welcome addition to Little Hope is a warning that shows up before QTE. These types of games usually don’t require you to be all that alert in terms of holding a controller. But QTE can suddenly appear on-screen even in the middle of cutscenes. This was a common problem in Until Dawn and Mad of Medan. So, having an alert is nice as it lets you avoid a last-second panic from their surprise appearance.
The presentation might be the best thing about Little Hope. Considering the small size of the developer and the low price of the title, some might assume that the quality would suffer. That’s simply not the case.
There’s a huge amount of detail to every element, whether it is the environment or rooms you find yourself in or the characters themselves. Things take on a very realistic feeling, helping to engross you in the world. Combined with the sound design, this also helps build up an eerie atmosphere.
So, while Little Hope is rarely truly scary, it evokes a sense that something is always lurking in the background. Adding to the final touches are some great voice actors bringing the characters to life and giving them more personality.
Whether you will enjoy Little Hope will largely depend on how you feel about these types of games. Interactive horror titles have become a common trope, and some can feel like little more than walking simulators. There seem to be fewer actual interactive elements to this title as well. In fact, the QTEs are much easier than they were in Man of Medan.
While these aspects are a bit of a letdown, Little Hope does get a lot right compared to its predecessor. There’s a better cast of characters, a more streamlined story, and a more effective setting. For those reasons, Little Hope is certainly worth checking out if you are a horror fan. Yet, it might not be a good fit for other players.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.