Maybe it’s a little macabre to be thinking about survival during an actual pandemic, and tying it into video games, but that’s what the latest chapter in Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco Entertainment’s The Dark Pictures Anthology is pointing towards.
The third in an eight-part series that focuses on interactive drama and survival horror, House of Ashes mixes monster and creatures with modern soldiers, with a little myth thrown in, where the monsters are inspired by real-world legends.
Following Man of Medan and Little Hope, each game in the anthology series is driven by standalone narrative horror stories, and House of Ashes is no different, as the game has players control the narrative and the fate of the game’s 5 main characters, as they try to escape a temple built during the Akkadian Empire.
Of course, it’s not just about escaping a historical building an in this survival-exploration game, players take on the role of a soldier from the US Special Forces who have to choose between collaborating with their Iraqi enemies, or working together alongside them and avoiding being killed by creatures.
Along with new improvements and a never before explored time period, here are 5 reasons why The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is the exploration-horror game you need on your console.
#1. Never Before Seen Creatures
The revengeful spirit of a dead woman? Cool. Zombies? Yawn. Vampires? I mean.. have you seen Edward Cullen? The Dark Pictures Anthology always bring something new to the table and whilst evil witches are definitely an upgrade from hallucinations of dead men on sea, House of Ashes’ mysterious creatures that have made a home in the underground Temple of Akkad presents a whole new world and experience that we’ve never seen before (or more accurately, in a long time).
These creatures, according to Will Doyle, Game Director of Supermassive Games in the UK, are some of the most complicated creatures they had to bring to life, even going so far as to use hand animation and motion capture to make the creatures look and move as real and believable.
Inspired by movies like Aliens, Predators and The Descent, as well as the works by H.P. Lovecraft, these creatures are something otherworldly, strong, fast, scary and take joy in stalking their prey. That being, you.
#2. Mad Improvements
One thing we gamers can appreciate is when a developer notes on the feedback and comments given by fans and then actually improves on future games.
House of Ashes takes the feedback from Little Hope and improves on the gaming experience to make it enjoyable by all players. For starters, the fixed camera in previous installments is entirely replaced with a 360 degrees player-controlled camera so that exploration is more inclusive. A flashlight has also been added so that players can decide to use it when exploring darker areas and actually see what they’re looking at. The only challenge is that it slows you down a little bit so use when necessary.
The game also adds difficulty settings so that players can adjust how fast, how slow, how hard and how easy the game will be for them to play. Fans previously complained that the games were too hard, or too easy. With difficulty settings, the power is in your hands to decide.
#3. The Overall Graphics Are Better
House of Ashes is available on next-gen consoles too so you already know that the graphics are going to be way better than previous installments. From the textures of the creature’s limbs, the minute movements on the character’s faces and the grand design of the Temple of Akkad, the details are stunning and it makes playing the game an incredibly immersive experience.
#4. Real-World Exploration
Man of Medan accomplished narrative heights but generally felt constrained in terms of location, as players were only limited to tiny game locations, with little freedom of movement and exploration. Little Hope introduced open areas which allow for a greater deal of movement and exploration.
House of Ashes, marries both so as to give the most realistic sense of exploring the catacombs. Your decisions decide the fate of the characters on screen and like in real life, how things unravel depends on the choices you make. And like real life, there’s no telling how things will end. House of Ashes has numerous story endings for you to explore so you get to see how things would’ve played out if you chose differently.
In addition, exploring the Temple of Akkad will be just as how you’d imagine exploring a real underground temple. Players will be thrown into environments that are often claustrophobic and enclosed and then later find themselves in open and vast magnificent spaces to feel exposed, vulnerable and threatened. Finding your way out of the temple is going to be as complicated
#5. Star Power
Another hallmark of Supermassive Games’ narrative-based horror games is that they all feature a cast of talented actors, many of which have been seen in the big and small screens. We saw Oscar winner Rami Malek in Until Dawn, and Shawn Ashmore a.k.a Iceman in Man of Medan and Will Poulter in Little Hope. This time, the cast of House of Ashes is graced by Ashley Tisdale.
Tisdale voices and is motion captured as CIA agent named Rachel King, who is one of the main five protagonists in House of Ashes and is a playable character.
BONUS #6. There’s A Curator Cut
House of Ashes has multiple modes: a shared story mode that lets you play the whole game online with a friend, movie mode where it can be played by up to 5 players in the same room and two separate single-player paths – the main theatrical cut and the curator cut.
In the theatrical cut, players get to play the game from the normal point of view and character order, whereas the curator cut lets you play other characters in the chapter instead. Plus, players will get to see scenes and choices that wouldn’t be seen in the theatrical cut. Having a go at both the theatrical cut and the curator’s cut lets you control the narrative at all angles, so just when you think you’ve covered every base of the story, there’s more to be seen.
If these reasons, pictures and video have you pumped up for the upcoming game, then definitely get your hands on The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes when it releases at some point in 2021.