need to know
What is that? The third part of the horror anthology, this time in an ancient Sumerian temple.
Expect to pay £25 / $30
Developer Super Huge Games
publisher Bandai Namco
launch October 22
reviewed in GTX 1080 Ti, Intel i7-8086K, 16GB RAM
connection official site
The Dark Pictures Anthology is a series hit by cinematic horror, and its setting, with each entry spinning new leads, has allowed Supermassive to cast a wide net. next man field ghost ship And Little Hope Witch ProblemNow we find ourselves exploring a Sumerian temple with Marines and CIA operatives in the House of Ashes. Turning from civilians and jumping into fear of soldiers and gunfights is important, and it gave me pause at first, but the snippets were stronger for her.
Soldiers go on a mission and discover something monstrous or supernatural, which, of course, is a classic type of ball that has spawned some of my favorites, from aliens to dog soldiers. But for a series that owes more to adventure games than action games, the heavily armed Jarhead seemed like an odd choice. I shouldn’t have been worried though, because it turns out the hideous, bat-like enemies in the House of Ashes don’t care about bullets.
This does not prevent the Marines, or the Iraqi Republican Guards who fall with them in the Sumerian temple, from spending a lot of ammunition. and explosives. When they don’t shoot monsters helplessly, they shoot each other. There are plenty of long and flashy QTEs out there, and they rank as some of the most entertaining, and certainly the most detailed, Supermassive games out there.
I carry a big stick
Selim, a member of the Republican Guard, is playable, and participates in most major melees. He got his hands on a big metal rod early on I swear it must have been imbued with some mystical powers, and boy does he make good use of it, saving lives, impaling monsters and throwing them like a javelin – frankly, it’s so good that thing the Avengers Hawk must cast out This guy is hired. Aside from being a striker, Salem also gives us the critical Iraqi viewpoint, balancing the Americans’ initial zealous stances.
While the House of Ashes’ monsters love to stay in the dark, Supermassive doesn’t hold them back too much. They are quickly revealed, and from there you will see them often, especially their hideous claws, which constantly creep out of the cracks in the door. They tick every monster movie box: they’re disgusting to look at, they make chilling noises, they laugh at bullets, but they have some glaring weaknesses that survivors will, of course, learn to exploit.
Despite the strong focus on live-action sequences, House of Ashes provides plenty of room for Iraq War critiques, character rivalries, and even a doomed love triangle. They are all fuel for terror, fuel tension and create potential betrayals. You will get some chances to really beat your “allies” at the crucial moments, or you can try to make everyone their friend. You make the choices, but it’s hard not to get caught up in how the characters feel. Their personalities and relationships were established early on, and I found myself doing the things that made sense to them rather than making smart calls.
Take, for example, the well-thought-out metaphor where a survivor is injured or infected. House of Ashes likes this very much. There was one case in particular where my co-op friend and I made what was clearly a wrong choice, over and over again. The game continued to give us opportunities to kill or leave a character who was like that clearly Disaster would happen, but after hearing the Marines groaning about leaving no one behind, a poor choice was the clear winner. And the horror is all about courting disaster. A horror movie where everyone makes rational decisions is a boring horror movie.
It’s amazing that I made it through with only one main character death. Eric, the US Air Force colonel who runs the operation didn’t make it through the night, but he was a bit of a loser, an insecure “nice guy”, so that’s okay. House of Ashes brings out the horror trick where, if you don’t root them to live, you’re having a good time rooting them until they die. Not that I had planned Eric’s death, which was sealed after a previous bad decision.
fast and easy
There are consequences to QTE failure, but that’s not how Eric died. In fact, I succeeded in one to allow him to do one last heroic act. Choices determine who lives and dies more than ingenuity. And while they are intense, QTEs are still simple and give you plenty of advance warning, prepare you for their impending arrival and even let you know what kind of QTE is coming.
Little Hope is where Supermassive began adding this useful context, but House of Ashes continues in that vein, even if with only small things like clarifying when the interaction will propel the scene forward. You know not to touch it until you’re done exploring. This is especially useful in a co-op, so you won’t be the one who forbids his friend to look at more engravings of Sumerian demons or excerpts from a 1930s diary.
The unfortunate quintet became a band of amateur archaeologists, and the soldiers followed in the footsteps of an ancient expedition. The House of Ashes continues the anthology’s fondness for playing with true myths and historical events, this time filled with Mesopotamian myths and the “Curse of the Akkad,” a poem detailing the destruction of the Akkadian Empire after Emperor Naram Sim declared himself a god and plundered the temple. In the poem, the gods took revenge on Naram-Sim thanks to the invasion of the Gutian people. However, in the introduction to House of Ashes, Gutians aren’t nearly as much of a problem as underground blood-sucking monsters.
The Sumerian temple is little bigger than any small New England town or rusty boat, and the mystery lurking at its heart – what are these monsters? – Means that I have been a predator to any document, tablet, or diary. You can get my hand. The whole time my archeology colleagues and I have been throwing theories back and forth – another reason you really need to at least try this out with someone else – and there are plenty of tricks to make you wonder.
Mechanically, there’s a little new here, but it’s a slightly stronger co-op experience. Again, there are three modes, which allow you to play solo, with up to four friends (sharing one console) or in the shared story mode with another person. Previously, the common story mode allowed you to play like everyone else, but this time you have specific characters to take care of. This makes a lot of sense, as Rachel – a CIA field officer and Eric’s estranged wife – and Slim have long divisions where they are on their own. Trying to play as one of them if you weren’t in control of them in their solo adventures would be awkward, because you would lack important context around what they saw and did.
This gave my boyfriend and I a greater sense of ownership of the characters, and it just makes it easier to role-play consistently. It also means that you really need to rely on your partner to fill you in, as you will often find yourself detached and doing completely different things. At one point, I was talking about heart-to-heart relationships while my boyfriend was with Rachel, until her eyes were in a pool of blood. One of us was more nervous than the other.
I just wish the camera was better. There are plenty of dark and narrow lanes, and the camera will zoom right in over your shoulder, making your character take up half of the screen. It’s clear at times trying to conjure up the shooter, but it’s too floating and too strenuous to work. It’s a good idea to slowly explore the more spacious temple rooms, at least, and when it comes to getting a good cinematic shot, it always works. It gives you some great excuses to hit that screenshot button. Unfortunately, some of the best I’ve had are in the spoiler area.
Starting play for the first time at 10pm was probably a mistake, because it kept me dangling on his hook until I crawled out of the Sumerian temple at dawn. And of course I then had to spend another 30 minutes dissecting it with my friend. The last act has gone pretty wild and is the best bonus set up by Supermassive so far, but the journey to get there is pretty compelling too. Much like horror, it swings a perilous tightrope between stupid and wonderful, and it doesn’t always land on the right side, but it’s still fantastically fun even if it makes you groan.