Little Hope is a story about self-acceptance and facing your demons disguised as a horror game.
The game follows four college students and their lecturer. After their bus crashes the group find themselves on the outskirts of Little Hope. Their goals are to try to leave the town and find their missing bus driver. During the night, the group discovers they may be in a reincarnation cycle spanning as far back as the witch trials. As they investigate the town, they must face down demons of the past to survive.
This is the second game in The Dark Pictures Anthology; a collection of horror titles. The previous entry is Man of Medan. The only returning character and actor is that of Pip Torren’s The Curator. This is the third interactive horror title made by Supermassive games. Before the anthology they made the popular Until Dawn. The Massachusetts witch trials were the inspiration for Little Hope. Except, the inspiration is not the famous Salem but the Andover witch trials. The Andover witch trials happened in the same time frame as those in the nearby town of Salem. In comparision to Salem, the Andover trials were less deadly but had more accusations.
The game starts with the player character’s bus taking a diversion via the town of Little Hope. The bus driver then sees a little girl in the middle of the road and crashes the bus. The game then flashes back to a playable prologue set in the 70s. During this prologue, the player watches the brutal deaths of the Clarke family in a house fire. During the prologue, the players meet the 70s incarnation of the above little girl: Megan. Afterwards, back in the present, we meet our five player characters. All look suspiciously like the family who died in the 70s.
The storyline is better structured than the storyline of Man of Medan. Unlike Man of Medan, this game’s plot twist has garnered mixed responses. Some players have even criticized Supermassive Games handling of aspects of the surprising turn of events. This is the second plot twist of this nature in the anthology. As such, it has led to some players questioning the plots of future titles in the Anthology. Personally, I enjoyed the plot of game, but I found the turning point to be a little lacking.
This game’s characters aren’t particularly interesting. There is one exception, the girl: Megan or Mary. The girl watches the character throughout the game. Despite being the archetypal creepy child, she has incredible depth. Through clues found by characters, it’s implied that she has her own much more serious demons.
Unlike previous games, Supermassive Games issue with writing characters is a lot more noticeable. The female characters both feel like archetypes in Little Hope. Taylor and Angela are step backs from the more nuanced Julia and Fliss. Another issue that requires mentioning is the misrepresentation of mental health. While it is not to the same degree as Until Dawn, it still is only used as a plot point rather than a proper exploration.
The Curator returns to guide the player. He is very enigmatic and records and comments on our progress throughout the game. You talk to him in his office during breaks from the main plot, and he can provide hints. He seems to want to help the player but cannot interfere. As first seen in Man of Medan there is an implication, he is the personification of Death. The clues this time are certain lines of dialogue, his presence in one ending, and his omnipotence.
The gameplay is mostly the same as Man of Medan. Major choices affect the narrative and determine whether characters live or die. The premonition style photographs return to help you. Also returning is the alternative perspective Curator’s Cut. Additionally, QTEs return determining certain character’s survival rate. The character movement has been much improved. This means the characters are less likely to walk into walls rather than doorways. This may be a side-effect of leaving the confined hallways of the Ourang Medan. The developers have fixed the Keep Calm minigame from the previous game. Now the minigame has the added challenge of the button changing midway through. While I suck at both the QTEs and the Keep Calm game, I acknowledge that they are part of the series’ charm.
A new gameplay addition, the locked traits system, is confusing. From a writing standpoint it makes sense, your characters need to grow to face their demons. Yet, they’re not explained by the game and leave the player to look online for answers. The flashbacks to the 1690s were enjoyable and interesting.
Additionally, everyone can still die. Except, due to choices made in the prologue, these deaths occur in specific thematic ways.
The game retains the interactive cutscenes from Man of Medan and Until Dawn. The Developers made minor improvements to the graphics. The game runs better with less of a delay. The new floating camera is best used during encounters with the demons. Outside encounters, the more memorable sequences involve the fixed camera angles. The player character deaths are all still quite gruesome. In particular James Clarke’s death in the prologue is very disturbing.
The music in Little Hope helps set the town’s sinister atmosphere. Yet, at times the same music can seem too grandiose for the scene it is playing over. The Dark Pictures Anthology opening music, Khemmis‘ cover of “Conversation with Death”, is still very enjoyable. There is also a new ending theme which fits with the games theme of witchcraft.
In conclusion, Little Hope is a step up from Man of Medan. It has a better more nuanced plot and atmosphere, even if the ending is lacking. The music is more memorable than the previous entry. The game plays better than Man of Medan. Yet, the issues which have plagued Supermassive games titles since Until Dawn are much more noticeable. Especially with the games poor depiction of mental health and one-dimensional female characters. That said, I still very much enjoyed the game.
Little Hope is currently available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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