Developer Supermassive Games is a busy man. Not only do they release an episode of The Dark Pictures Anthology every year, they also release full games like The Quarry in between. 2022 is no exception for their shorter horror games, as The Devil in Me will be released in November. In any case, Supermassive Games always uses interesting settings and ideas for their games, so I tried their latest installment at Gamescom.
Where The Dark Pictures Anthology previously played with vampires, witches and ghosts, they now seem to have their sights set on serial killers. The Devil in Me is based on the true story of HH Holmes. This American is suspected of having murdered countless people. During his hearing, he claimed to be possessed by Satan, which was probably the inspiration for the title of this game.
Since these murders, stories have circulated that Holmes had a hotel built specifically to commit his murders. These stories were soon debunked, but are still great inspiration for a horror game. That’s how The Devil in Me begins. In the story of the game, the famous hotel has been recreated or reopened and people can visit it. That’s the situation our ill-fated protagonists find themselves in at the beginning.
Choice without consequence
I was actually thrown into the demo without further context. I think this served more as a tastemaker for the atmosphere than an overview of the actual game. Three characters, including one played by Chernobyl’s Jessie Buckley, are lost in the hotel. There they appear to be stalked by a sinister figure, somewhat resembling Holmes.
Gradually they end up in various death traps, where they sometimes have to make choices about who dies and who survives. It reminded me a lot of Saw, for example because there was an actual saw in one of the traps. The demo ended with one of these important choices. I had to choose which of two characters would die.
However, it got a bit bland after that. When I sentenced a character to death, something happened that made them both survive. I really don’t like it in these kinds of games. If you force me to make a difficult choice, then you can at least also attach consequences to that choice. This is a problem that Supermassive has had since Until Dawn and I don’t think its presence here is a good sign.
Another problem is that I didn’t find the demo scary. Here and there The Devil in Me exercises a jumpscare, but none of them were effective for me. The traps that were shown did not convince me in terms of gore or tension. Every moment was a bit disappointing. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been able to empathize with the characters yet, so let’s give The Devil in Me the benefit of the doubt.
Not much to say about the gameplay. If you’ve played a Supermassive Game before, you know where you stand. You walk around, make choices in dialogue and pick up objects to investigate. This is simply a new story that has been put into a familiar gameplay jacket. This is not a positive or negative point by the way. It’s a gameplay model that needs a good story, and we’ll have to wait and see the quality of the story.
Although the demo was not really convincing, I am curious about the rest of the concept. The episodes in The Dark Pictures Anthology vary a lot in quality, so it remains to be seen what The Devil in Me will look like. However, I’m still willing to give the game a chance at full release.