The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Review: Fumbled Finale

Prior to playing The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me in full, our preview of the game glimpsed through a snippet of the full experience painted a picture of a refreshing change of pace that looked different from past installments. Those sentiments failed to hold up once the full game was played, however – The Devil in Me is certainly not Supermassive Games' best Dark Pictures game as we hoped it would end up to be, and it serves as both a poor Season 1 finale and a lackluster lead-in for what's to come after it.

The issues with The Devil in Me are apparent from the start. During a prologue-like opener where the stage is set for this game's murder house setting and the killer at the center of it all, players make decisions on the behalf of two unremarkable characters. That's not a slight on their design – they're mean to be disposable, an opener of sorts to familiarize players with the game's mechanics before tasking them with taking care of the game's core cast in modern times.

So, when those characters didn't behave as expected and instead exhibited choppy movements, a lack of eye contact, and a general doll-like way of standing and looking around, one could easily write that off to less being invested in them due to their temporary nature. It was much more surprising then to see the same character issues extended to the game's main characters, too.

With such a focus placed on close-up interactions between characters as relationships are strengthened or destroyed and tough decisions are made, it's near indefensible at this point in The Dark Pictures series to have characters moving like they do in The Devil in Me. Characters have to be in somewhat of a neutral resting position in order to act out appropriately based on whether a player selects an angry or timid response, sure, but when the interactions actually play out and characters aren't even looking at one another while they're talking, it's impossible to be as immersed as The Devil in Me would like you to be. Things like characters not even connecting with bottles they're supposedly sipping from and the like only further break the immersion.

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There are some exceptions, however. Paul Kaye as Charlie is a standout in particular, and his absence towards the middle of the game (even if you keep him alive) is felt. Gloria Obianyo as Jamie was a close second, but as for the other characters, it was difficult to develop an attachment to them to make it so that I cared enough to make choices in their best interest.

And then there's the more "grounded" feel of The Devil in Me compared to the more supernatural setups of the past games. It's still twisted, to be sure, but more grounded in the sense that the threat here is a physical, tangible one rather than an unpredictable creature. While decidedly different, The Devil in Me proves that different isn't always better. The human constraints placed on the killer in The Devil in Me significantly assuaged any stressful moments during chase scenes to the point that there was hardly any tension to be felt even when the game intended things to be at their most climactic moments. A lengthy game of cat and mouse towards the end of the game but still did little to make up for other shortcomings.

Still, there's something compelling about The Dark Pictures formula that kept me coming back to save characters and rewrite decisions even if, overall, it wasn't a particularly enjoyable experience. Perhaps it's the temptation of wanting to know what an alternate decision would've led to, or perhaps it's that the characters did grow on me after all to the point that I wanted to make sure they all escaped safely, but something about The Dark Pictures still works overall in The Devil in Me.

But overall, The Devil in Me served as a pretty poor ending for the first "season" of The Dark Pictures Anthology. Mobility mechanics and inventory management were fine additions, but they did little to elevate the game and mostly made it apparent that somewhat basic things like that were absent from previous installments. The next Dark Pictures game awaits regardless of the pitfalls of this one, however, so hopefully, Season 2 will be off to a better start than the end of Season 1.

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Rating: 2.5/5

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 with a review code provided by the publisher. It's now available on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC platforms.