The Devil in Me is the final entry in Supermassive Games’s The Dark Pictures Anthology, and it is a fitting end to the series. The game can be legitimately tense, with a genuinely intriguing story. It features more blood and gore than previous entries in the saga. However, all the viscera in the world can’t cover up some glaring problems with the writing and the graphics.
Bloodiest Bed and Breakfast in America
The Devil in Me follows a documentary film crew from Lonnit Entertainment. They covered the case of H. H. Holmes, America’s first serial murderer. A mysterious man named Granthem Du’Met contacts them and invites them to his estate. He’s an avid collector of Holmes’s artifacts. Director Charlie Lonnit agrees so that they can save their failing show. Unfortunately, it turns out that there is more to the offer, and the crew finds themselves trapped in a replica of the Murder Castle, all while a serial killer stalks them through the house.
A new addition to The Devil in Me is the inventory system, as well as tool-based puzzles. Tool-based puzzles rely on characters’ signature items. For example, Charlie is the only one who can open up locked drawers with a business card. This makes the characters stand out and feel more unique, as opposed to the cast in Until Dawn, who felt interchangeable in terms of gameplay. It can add a new depth to the horror factor as well. Playing as Mark was a nightmare, because his red light was the opposite of helpful in all the dark rooms.
Importance of Stupidity
For reference, the only Supermassive Games interactive survival horror games I experienced prior to this were The Quarry and Until Dawn. I was pleasantly surprised by how much more palatable the cast of The Devil in Me is. The reasons behind their bickering are understandable, and they lack the childish traits that younger protagonists possess. There is a lesbian romance between Jamie and Erin that is very nice, but it could have used more time to develop. You can also re-kindle the romance between Kate and Mark, who recently broke up and aren’t handling it very well. Charlie just wants a cigarette. Despite their faults, the characters are all ultimately fairly sympathetic.
The cast being more grounded and mature than the youthful folks of Until Dawn or The Quarry is a blessing and a curse. At first, I appreciated it, because they were making more intelligent decisions and the dialog did not make me cringe. However, I soon realized just how important campy and stupid humor can be in horror games. It takes away the opportunity for character development, even if that relies solely on my choices. It felt lacking to agree with everyone’s choices, instead of sitting there with my head in my hands. Though I understand that this game is an homage of Saw, I kind of wished it had more of a B-horror vibe to keep things fresh throughout its 7-hour-long narrative.
The Devil in The Devil in Me
If this was any other genre, the characters would not be very charming. They did not actively offend me, which is more than most horror game protagonists can say. However, I found it difficult to get attached to them. When I accidentally killed someone, my only reaction was to sigh and lament the fact that I lost my chance at a trophy in the final hour. The other character who witnessed the murder did not even react. While the characters individually are fine, their interactions with each other needed a bit more work. The only relationship that felt like it developed or had the potential to be interesting was between Kate and Jamie, just because of how antagonistic it began.
While the game generally looked okay, I experienced a few hiccups with the graphics and textures. The textures sometimes need a few seconds to load after a cutscene begins. The facial expressions in this game can look wooden at times, or they revert to a default resting face at inopportune moments. Jeff, Marie, Charlie, and Erin stuck out as having the odder and more unnatural expressions. Despite the awful circumstances, a lot of characters maintained very stoic faces. This is in stark contrast to the highly emotive characters of The Quarry. The narrative also had a few issues. It does not make the most of the setting, for one thing, and the ending is exhausting. Every time I thought it was over, it would keep on going.
The camera was a major issue in some of the stages as well. If my character was in too tight of a spot, it was disorienting to try and move around because of how close the camera is to them and how dark the game is. Sluggish controls consistent in Supermassive Games’s survival horror fare exacerbate this issue. Another problem I noticed was in Mark’s camera. I often had to put it down and then use it again since he would somehow be in the shot. The final issue only occurred in subsequent playthroughs, when I would charge ahead. If another crew member happens to be following me and they’re in the middle of shimmying through a tight opening, I am stuck in place until they finish their action. It’s kind of annoying, especially because of how long it can take them to shimmy.
H. H. Holmes’ Wild Ride
Jump scares were what I was most afraid of when I booted up The Devil in Me. In my opinion, any horror game or movie relying solely on them is not scary. Five Nights at Freddy’s and Until Dawn are both examples of games the mechanic’s overuse. It’s lazy and shows a lack of effort in engaging with the aesthetics of the horror genre. Fortunately, while The Devil in Me does have a few jump scares, they are peppered throughout the story rather than being the entire game. The sound design, camera angles, and dark environments all aided in creating an atmosphere that was spooky, but never too intimidating.
The Devil in Me is a great game for horror fans, as well as those who enjoy true crime. As soon as I recognized H. H. Holmes from the prologue, I felt excited about what was in store. Its characters are inoffensive — some may consider them bland — but the plot helps to make up for them for the most part. With its relatively short play time, it’s an easy game to loop in order to achieve the best ending. Or, perhaps you can channel your inner Holmes and attempt to kill them all. Like the Curator says in the beginning, the choice is in your hands. You’re culpable for who lives and who dies.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is available for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Windows PC.