The journey of Bandai Namco and Supermassive Games was not linear. After the excellent Until Dawn, the team decided to start horror. And so he gave birth to the first chapter of a collection called Anthology of Dark Images that created The Man of Medan. What was originally billed as an eight-title series was scaled back and partially concluded with The Devil in Me. Two more episodes were released between August 2019 and today. Little Hope and House of Ashes managed to make the hearts of horror lovers race for various reasons. Despite a few flaws here and there, the works in this dark anthology have managed to receive more or less positive reviews from critics. Thus, the Devil in Me has the double edge of Damocles, having to improve on what his predecessors did and close the cycle in the best possible way. So it’s no surprise that the team is trying to start by pressing the gas pedal in some form. We are at the famous World’s Fair Hotel, run by Herman Webster Mudgett. This individual went down in history not with his entrepreneurial skills, but with his criminal skills. Under the pseudonym Henry H. Holmes, he became the first recorded serial killer in the United States. The story of The Devil Within begins here, in a building with three floors and an incredible number of rooms (they are said to be up to a hundred). This preamble gives a good idea of what the player will encounter during the game.
After a short history that plays the role of a textbook and we do not reveal any details, we are transported to the present day. Henry H. Holmes is just a name buried under tons of concrete in the history books. However, a TV group called Lonnit Entertainment is producing a report on the serial killer. Especially given the low caliber of material collected so far, there is little hope of pulling the junk footage off the cliff. Everything changes when director Charlie receives a call from a mysterious man. Mr. Du’Met unexpectedly offers the group a chance to shoot in a replica of the World’s Fair hotel, complete with lots of Holmes memorabilia. The offer is so attractive that Charlie accepts without hesitation. A limousine takes him and the other members to Du’Met Island. Narrator Keith, lighting and camera crew Mark, Jamie and Erin thus descend into what soon (predictably) turns into a real nightmare. In the rooms of DuMet’s claustrophobic mansion hides a violent serial killer who is ready to imitate Henry Holmes in every way. Thus, the game of carnage quickly begins, with the player’s choices tipping the balance between the life and death of the heroes. As in the previous works, the plot in “The Devil Inside” will develop according to the decisions made. The atmosphere of tension is constantly palpable in what is a hybrid between the legendary The Shining and the lesser-known Saw: The Riddler.
To each his own.
While offering an incredibly compelling setting, The Devil Within doesn’t deviate from the classic style of the series. Supermassive Games’ work is a long, interactive movie, with lots of cutscenes and a series of real-time events to complete. There’s no shortage of little puzzles (some of which are really easy to solve) and some cool new features. Among them, it is necessary to mention the existence of an inventory entrusted to the cross for management. Each character can rely on special tools that are useful in certain situations. Forget the Leon-style backpack from Resident Evil, because there are very few items to use. Still, it’s a welcome diversion and shows that the team is up for the challenge. The same role is played by immortal collections represented by well-contextualized obols and premonitory paintings in the plot. But as we mentioned, the real hero is the staff. The Du’Met mansion is more of a real enemy than a killer on the loose. Between creepy animatronics, hidden rooms, and lots of little tricks, horror-loving gamers will have plenty to enjoy. There’s no shortage of famous jumps, as well as plenty of tense moments. Unfortunately, they’re cut short by too much dilution of the story, which makes the six-hour running time too much. Although this was a positive note, breaking the rhythm was a real big crime for us. Equally culpable is the choice not to create characters that players can relate to. Empathy for the crew is so low that the real attraction is whether the group survives or not, and who is guilty of the evil deeds. It is also due to the overly superficial relationships between the crew members with the help of overly simple lines of dialogue. Add to this the choices that allow the story to take in uncertain ways, and the player is left with a fascinating environment in which a mysterious villain and five appendages are hidden.
One of the weakest aspects of the film The Devil in Me is not related to the story aspect, but to the technical aspect. The polygon models shown to the player for the first time are almost sloppy, so much so that they immediately show the worst. With the introduction of the main characters, despite the very wooden movements and animations, things improve a bit. Even the introduction of dynamic sections, where you have to climb over (also unseen) rocks and avoid obstacles, does not help to refresh the game. In some ways, it feels like a product of the early years of the PlayStation 4. Lifeline is the audio department flexing its muscles once again in terms of sound motion and effects. The game is actually completely localized in French, which allows you to fully immerse yourself in the story. The constant presence of dark and gloomy special effects, on the other hand, helps make the villa unique and incredibly creepy, well supported by a soundtrack that never invades the screen but (appropriately) leaves the scene to the actors. As for the cast, as tradition dictates, The Devil in Me also boasts a respectable cast. Their performances are constantly shining, contributing to the game’s distinctly enjoyable interactive cinematic aura. Even in this aspect, perhaps some “plots” could have been revised, but the overall result is not pleasant. Finally, the option to play in company is not to be missed, another classic of the series that never goes out of style.
Like the other chapters in this horror collection, The Devil in Me suffers from its ups and downs, as well as some glaring technical flaws. Along with an interesting and well-told story, there is a rough realization (both technical and narrative) that breaks the tension too much, and characters with too many dead moments. It is necessary to emphasize the work of the team for the realization of the villa, a real strong point, as well as first-class coupe audio. These small additions bode well for a possible second season, but expect a definite jump in quality.