Monday, November 2, 2020

The Dark Duo - Little Hope - Part 1

The spooky times are upon us once more, and there's no better time for a big frighten than now. Supermassive Games, creators of both Until Dawn and last year's The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan have taken it upon themselves to release a new chapter in their ongoing series. The Curator has returned with a new story that we are to conduct.

Welcome to Little Hope. Joining me as he did in our last outing at the Man of Medan is my old friend Acharky. The Dark Duo is back, and this time it appears that the mystery is not as cut and dry our seafaring adventure prior.

While Little Hope plays largely the same as Man of Medan did, they are definitely areas of improvement in the way the game presents itself. The one that immediately comes to mind for me is that prompts overtly signal when they lead to progress, so that players know what to avoid doing if they want to take the time to explore the area for secrets or extra dialogue, solving the problem where we would painstakingly try to guess with choice is the "right one" so we could put it off for last before missing out on something we wanted to see.

Another noticeable UI change is that there's a visual indicator before we're expected to perform a QTE like tossing a rock or navigating down a precarious path, or keeping quiet. It's a nice touch to avoid blindsiding players who are otherwise engrossed in the story, buying them that extra second to scramble for the controls before they're asked to use them. There is the odd side effect of me failing pretty much every "keep quiet" scene because I'm so used to immediately having to react, but this is an impulse that can be unlearned in time, after enough exposure.

There's also the changes to character stats. In contrast to Man of Medan, where there was a single bar denoting how two character mutually feel about each other, each character's opinion of the others are tracked separately in Little Hope. Just because John has a favorable opinion of Taylor does not mean that the reverse is true. And with certain personality traits being locked, the cast is more strongly defined on a mechanic level than that of Man of Medan, and even Until Dawn. While the writing has always been good, this allows the calculations under the hood to better keep up with it. All of these are small changes, but together they significantly refine the formula Supermassive has been working with for all of these games.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give Little Hope is that I barely even noticed the time ticking by as Chris and I played it together. And in the first two hours, it made us go from completely hating several of the character based on first impressions, to being solidly in their camp. And that, above all else, is the sign of a good video game.

No comments: