the dark pictures the devil in me

The Dark Pictures: The Devil In Me Hands-Off Preview – I Wanna Play A Game

Take me, Holmes

Supermassive Games’ output of interactive narrative horror games lately is, well, super massive to say the least. Hot off the heels of the well-received big ticket title, The Quarry, the studio is gearing up to dive back into its The Dark Pictures anthology series with the newest entry.

The Dark Pictures: The Devil In Me is the fourth game in Supermassive’s collection of loosely-connected horror vignettes, rounding out what the studio considers the first “season” in a series that will eventually span eight games in title. Like the three before it, this one is a standalone story with brand new characters and setting, presented by the familiar Curator character but otherwise entirely its own thing. We were lucky enough to get a hands-off look at around 15 minutes of the game with an introduction from Game Director, Tom Heaton.

The Devil In Me

Like the other Dark Pictures titles, The Devil In Me takes its inspirations from a particular sub genre or field of horror. This time around it’s pulling from a few different sources, with Heaton making reference to the Saw films as well as claustrophobic horror classics like The Shining and Psycho. It all starts rooted in one, real-life figure though – H.H. Holmes.

“I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing.”

– Henry Howard Holmes

The game stars a small TV production crew, helmed by one Charlie Lonnit, that are hard at work on the final episode of a documentary series on famous American serial killers. Out of money, content and ideas it seems their chances of securing a second season are slim, but as luck would have it, the team receives a mysterious call from an eccentric architect and collector. Claiming to have come into possession of a completely accurate reproduction of H.H. Holmes famous “Murder Castle” hotel located on a remote island, the caller invites the team to come and see it for themselves.

Naturally, the crew has no qualms about swearing to secrecy, handing over their phones and traveling to a spooky, remote location if it means getting their story.

the dark pictures the devil in me

The Murder Castle

Atmosphere is tantamount to a good horror video game experience, something that the people at Supermassive know all too well. That’s why, for this game, a creepy 19th century hotel setting feels absolutely perfect. The inspirations from Kubrick’s The Shining become immediately apparent as we’re treated to footage of the game’s characters navigating its winding, intentionally-confounding and claustrophobic halls.

Then of course, comes the H.H. Holmes-inspired murder stuff. Supermassive’s interpretation of the famous Murder Castle takes what we actually know about the real thing – a staggering number of rooms, intentionally dead-ends, maze-like hallways and false doors – and combines it with the psychologically-charged, escape room-esque traps of the Saw films. Though we only caught glimpses of how some of this will play out in the game, it certainly sounds like a winning combo for a bloody terrifying time.

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the dark pictures the devil in me

An expanded gameplay experience

Navigating the hotel setting is evidently of incredible importance to The Devil In Me, so it pays that Supermassive has taken on feedback from the previous Dark Pictures entries and made huge enhancements to the gameplay experience this time around.

The biggest change comes with traversal and exploration, which is much more interactive and flexible than before. Characters can climb up onto things, shimmy across ledges, balance on beams, squeeze through games and push/pull objects around just to name a few – skills they’ll need both to get around and occasionally even to hide from danger.

There’ll also be a larger focus on puzzles this time, giving the game a very classic survival horror feel with a dedicated inventory for things like keys and tools. Each character will also have their own unique tools like a camera or multimeter that can be altered, broken, lost or given to others over the course of the game depending on your actions and choices. Between this and the greater options for traversal it sounds as though there’ll be more live-or-die situations than ever, a fact that’s got my heart rate going up already.

What this should all add up to is something that, more than before, bridges the gap between choose-your-own-adventure narrative horror gameplay that Supermassive is known for and a “proper” survival horror experience. Heaton confirmed the game will also be the longest yet in the anthology at around seven hours for a single playthrough.

the dark pictures the devil in me

What we “Saw”

After running us through everything that we can expect from The Devil In Me, Heaton presented us with roughly 15 minutes of gameplay footage from a section of the game, set in an abandoned underground spa area.

This section sees the player in control of the crew’s Chief Grip, Jamie, accompanied by cameraman, Mark and the show’s presenter, Kate (played by Jessie Buckley who absolutely killed it in Alex Garland’s Men). Immediately we’re able to see the game’s expanded traversal in action with Jamie and Mark clambering their way through the dilapidated complex before finding themselves victim to a trap that has them separated from the group.

There wasn’t much in the way of the promised puzzle-solving in the gameplay preview, but we did see some light item use and general exploration, and everything certainly looks more interactive and malleable than previous titles. The demo ended with two of the crew finding themselves trapped in a Saw-style contraption where only one would be granted air to breathe and an escape – a decision that only their friends on the outside, and by proxy the player, could make.

Did I mention the deaths in this game look especially gruesome and horrifying? Because they do.

the dark pictures the devil in me

The Dark Pictures: The Devil In Me is coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC on November 18th, 2022.