Our Score: 9/10
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is the third and latest game in the eight-part series by developer Supermassive Games. This horror anthology had its first release in 2018 with Man of Medan which did well. And since then Supermassive Games has been listening to player feedback.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes takes all that they’ve learned from Until Dawn, Man of Medan, and Little Hope. From the first gameplay moment, you will realize just how much they’ve tweaked things to better fit the story. If you’ve played and enjoyed any of the games mentioned before, then there is no doubt that you will absolutely love this one.
It’s also the perfect game-shared experience for Halloween. Thanks to its shared story mode and movie night mode, you can play the game with your friends and have a more engaging and dramatic story. Whether it is online or offline, you’ve got your bases covered.
What is House of Ashes?
“In House of Ashes, at the close of the Iraq War, Special Forces hunting for weapons of mass destruction unearth something far deadlier – a buried Sumerian temple containing a nest of unearthly creatures. To survive the night below, they must forge a brotherhood with their enemies from the world above.”
House of Ashes is a survival horror game, like its predecessors. As the synopsis states, you play as a US Soldier at the end of the Iraq War. With a total of five playable characters, there’s quite a lot of replayability and co-op fun to be had. Ashley Tisdale provides the likeness for one of the protagonists, Rachel King.
Unlike Little Hope which had a fixed camera angle, House of Ashes features a proper third-person camera. So controlling your character and navigation is much easier and streamlined. Furthermore, having listened to player feedback, there are different difficulty options. These difficulty options change the time allotted for QTEs and let you know beforehand for an upcoming QTE in a cutscene.
Since you’re a military person with a weapon, you carry a flashlight on you at all times. This will help illuminate some of the darker areas since you’re underground. Speaking of weapons, the aiming and shooting are also much improved. Now you only need to aim at a zone instead of being pinpoint accurate.
Another change comes in the moral compass system. This time around instead of being represented as an actual moral compass, they’re shown as crows. This is similar to the butterfly system from Until Dawn. The characters in this game are ones you’ll grow to love so that morality will come into play very hard.
Look and Feel
Every game by Supermassive Games improves upon itself visually. And that’s the case here as well. The texture work and character models are just top tier. Because of how heavy character interactions are in this, this is super good to have. Another place where the game truly shines (pun intended) is in the lighting system. The various light sources that help break through the darkness look incredible. The way light is cast and illuminate space, with the bounce light, it’s just great.
The audio and sound design in this is top-notch too. The voice acting and direction are some of the best in the series and immensely help you feel connected with the characters. The performance by the cast is very immersive and feels like a high-budget film. The general sound design, music, and sound effects do a great job of setting the atmosphere. The uneasy feeling of not being able to see in the dark and knowing something could be around the corner is just accentuated with it.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is without a doubt the best game so far in the anthology. Its story is very intriguing and the character interactions can keep you on the edge of your seat. The twists and turns are also good with what I would say is a solid ending to the story, unlike the previous games.
Furthermore, this game showcases that Supermassive Games are listening to fan feedback. They’re improving upon their formula which only bodes well for the future. Speaking of the future, this game has me excited for the season finale, The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me.