(Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC)
(PlayStation 4 version used for review)
The second in Supermassive Games series (third if you count Until Dawn) has been put out following last year’s Man of Medan which largely received negative reviews for its lacklustre story, short game length and poor camera and lighting (seriously I know it’s a horror game but I still need to be able to see something). That game ended with a trailer for this game Little Hope which tells the story of a group of college students and their professor being stranded on the road to a town called Little Hope after a bus accident. The group venture into town with some strange supernatural stuff happening along the way and what seems like a dark force stalking them and vision of doubles of themselves during pilgrim witch trials. Once again this is essentially a horror movie you control though like Man of Medan it is also a shorter experience going for around 4- 5 hours for each playthrough. Though like I said with my review of Tell Me Why with these kinds of games the length isn’t the major factor it’s going back to see how you can alter the story. once again the game also offers pass the controller multiplayer which means 2-5 people can each pick characters and will then pass the controller to one another to play which is what I did on Halloween with my housemate which you can see on my YouTube channel since we recorded it in 2 videos ( the reason why 2 videos for a single playthrough will be explained later). the majority of the time will have you exploring environments to provide more context on the town, the mystery of what is going on and the character progression as well as quick time events which you’ll need to do almost perfectly to get that character out alive.
- Story : I won’t give away too much but each playthrough can offer interesting ideas on how to progress the story since unlike Man of Medan your actions feel like they matter more this time and can directly affect the story in bigger ways which is why I enjoyed Until Dawn so much. There are plenty of twists which really warrant replays to see how events can go differently and it really motivates replays with the twists in mind something that was really lacking first time round. The game also is way smarter with how it uses premonitions which put you on edge for a possible upcoming death and like Man of Medan there’s even some that predict deaths in the next game. while it’s not too scary it is incredibly atmospheric and delivers some really interesting design choices
- Multiplayer offline: this is one of the best parts of the game, it’s great to get everyone around the tv and pass the controller around to each person, the game lets you know which player plays when and it is amazing to have everyone play their part in making the overall story and I had very good fun with it with just 2 players and I’m hoping to eventually give it a go with 5
- Way better QuickTime events: the biggest complaint in Man of Medan was that the quick time events were to sporadic and came out of nowhere which ultimately dragged the game down due to the amount of fails would happen with little fault to the player. You can still fail at these events but that’s due to being flustered not because of bad timing and lack of indication like previous games. This game indicates way better so you expect them coming and can plan accordingly. Whether you’ll succeed is another matter
- Game length: this game is between 4-5 hours long depending on how you play. Now it’s a decent time for a game like this though I think that adding a couple of hours on like Until Dawn did in order to really flesh out the story would be nice. I actually would prefer these games come twice yearly rather than the current annual releases we have at the moment to make more substantial experiences.
- Graphics: the graphics are really good a lot of the time and brings some excellent design work to life as well as bring the actors performances to the game through the use of excellent motion capture technology though it doesn’t look like quite as good as Until Dawn did and had occasional moments of blank expression which took away from the experience. This is likely the process of having to develop for multiple hardware unlike Until Dawn which was a PlayStation 4 exclusive as well as the lower amount of time to put it together
- Multiplayer online: this is really more of a preference thing but rather like Man of Medan while it just doesn’t quite have the same effect as playing with friends offline because it doesn’t have the same level of interaction which really adds to the experience and as a result it’s more of a lonely one. also because of the bugs in the game if you get a crash it can be way more difficult to get back to the game in the event of a shutdown (more on that later) which during lockdown times is not optimal.
- Bugs: remember when I said we streamed over 2 videos well that was not the intention. We had planned to do one long continuous stream of our playthrough but the game crashed during a transition to a flashback. Now luckily aside from an incident where a character got stuck in a wall this is the only one we experienced probably because the day one patch ironed out many of the bugs but a few players have stated they are still getting frequent crashes and even some which are corrupting the games save data. This will improve over time but isn’t a great look right now.
- Tutorials only appear once even in multiplayer: this is another problem from Man of Medan that’s carried over. In the multiplayer game I did I got the tutorials on quick time events and how to perform actions which meant I got an easy practice but my friend who was playing with me didn’t get that so failed a couple times early on from simple mistakes. I think it would be improved if each player got a tutorial chance before playing proper especially with this game potentially attracting a more causal audience
- All the jumps scares suck: this game is WAY too heavily reliant on jump scares and they get so predictable that you can see them from a mile away and are not scary. I have said this on numerous occasions but I’ll say it again when you are that reliant on jump scares you are failing as a horror writer. Fortunately, the game makes up for it with good atmosphere
- The similarities to Silent Hill are distracting: the people who made this game clearly really like Silent Hill because they put their fandom front and centre. It’s set in a New England town with an ominous name and dark past brought on by its own citizens surrounded by fog that forbids escape is one thing but even some of the designs and twists feel like were ripped straight out of the Silent Hill franchise. Now I know the Silent Hill team didn’t invent these tropes and other games have tried to capture what Silent Hill achieved but it’s still feels really distracting and at times feels like it’s on the edge of being a copy though the game has a few distinct design choices that make it its own thing.
Little Hope fixes a lot of the problems Man of Medan made but also has its own issues. while it’s a better and more compelling story that invites replay, much better performances and has way better quick time events it still could be a longer experience and it has technical issues that really should’ve been resolved before launch. That being said, I had way more fun with this than I did playing Man of Medan which I think counts for a lot and I’m looking forward to playing more with friends when I can and I hope there will be further improvements in the sequel next year that’ll be going to the next generation consoles.
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