The annual release of a new entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology has been a real treat for horror fans over the last few years, with Supermassive Games’ eerie narrative-driven adventures bringing some truly horrifying thrills along with some sublime life-like cinematic presentation. This year’s entry is especially cool, with The Devil in Me not only offering one of the most gruesome, intense, and entertaining stories so far, but also bringing with it some refinements to the gameplay to spice up the admittedly familiar formula.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The Devil in Me once again gives players five protagonists to play as, who this time are made up of a group of filmmakers working on a documentary about the first ever American serial killer, H. H. Holmes. Coincidentally, they receive a call from a gent named Granthem Du’Met, who just so happens to own a replica of the hotel (affectionally known as Murder Castle) used by H. H. Holmes when murdering his victims… it’s the perfect place to get filming, right? I’m sure it’s not difficult to picture what happens next, with s**t hitting the fan for the group due to some grisly revelations and the replica Murder Castle full of vicious traps that’ll bring their lives to a swift and gruesome end. It’s up to you to help them survive, with your actions and decisions ultimately determining who will live and who will die.

It’s your standard Dark Pictures Anthology setup, so those who are familiar with the series will recognise the way it plays out and how you’ll see the story unfold from five different perspectives. That doesn’t mean it’s not exciting and full of tension though, with the horrors of H. H. Holmes and his lasting legacy making for the most gripping entry in the anthology yet. Different types of horror appeal to different types of players, but the whole devilish serial killer thing really ticks all the right boxes for me.

It helps that the performances for all of the characters are absolutely top notch throughout, whether that’s with the iconic narrator who returns once again or the helpless heroes you’re trying to save. Admittedly, I’m not as familiar with the actors that are showcased this time around, but I still found it easy to admire their terrific performances that brought with them a real sense of believability. The characters themselves are genuinely interesting too, and whilst some do fall under some typical ‘film making’ cliché roles, they’re a likable bunch that are easy to root for. With plenty of twists, turns, and shocks throughout the story, players can expect to find themselves hooked in until the very end.

“There’s a strong focus on puzzle-solving this time around, with some clever enigmas to be found throughout the game that emphasise the SAW-like vibes that that The Devil in Me has going for it.”

When it comes to the gameplay, The Devil in Me follows the established blueprint to a tee. Players will freely explore their horrifying surroundings between chapters, all whilst swapping protagonists, collecting items, and gathering lore that fleshes out the narrative. There are also plenty of difficult choices to be made throughout that’ll determine whether the playable character lives or dies, whilst QTEs bring some interactive pizzazz to the more action-orientated sequences. And don’t forget: death is permanent, so if a character dies, they’re gone for the rest of the story. It’s a tried-and-tested formula that doesn’t change too much, so if you’ve played a game in the series before you’ll feel right at home.

That’s not to say that The Devil in Me hasn’t brought some fresh ideas to the mix though, with one noticeable improvement coming with player control. Previously, you could only walk when exploring, but now you’re able to run. I know, I know, it might seem like a small feature, but it’s something returning players will appreciate, especially when trying to fully explore their surroundings. There’s also a lot more flexibility offered in getting your characters around, whether it’s when squeezing through gaps or climbing obstacles. Again, it might seem like a small addition on paper, but it adds a bit more believability to the experience and shows that the cast won’t let minor obstacles get in their way.

There’s also a big emphasis on each character’s inventory, with players having access to a variety of items to help them out in different scenarios. They’re typical everyday things really, but they go a long way in helping out characters, whether it’s using a business card to unhook the latch on a drawer or a microphone to hear what’s going on behind a wall. They add to the explorative elements of the game, but they can also be tied into a character’s survival given that they can potentially get broken or even given to other allies. You might not think you’ll need that pencil, but if you don’t have it at the right time, who knows what could happen…

It adds an extra sense of pressure on the player to ensure the right person has the right thing, which could admittedly be a little stressful at times. I’m not sure what the full consequences of having or not having an item might be at any given time, but they certainly proved useful in my playthrough. Either way, it’s a neat addition to the series’ traditional formula that gives players something extra to think about.

Check out some screenshots down below:

There’s a strong focus on puzzle-solving this time around, with some clever enigmas to be found throughout the game that emphasise the SAW-like vibes that that The Devil in Me has going for it. They’re really cool life-or-death scenarios too, but I couldn’t help but to find them a little bit too easy to solve. It was rare that I really felt like my character’s life was at risk or I was in a desperate struggle, with the solution to each puzzle usually proving simple to figure out. It didn’t make them any less fun to complete and they certainly complemented the decision-making and QTEs that normally determine a character’s fate, but it would have been nice if they put a bit more pressure on the player.

As expected, the presentation of The Devil in Me is absolutely top notch. The bar had already been set high in previous release in the series, but the life-like character models and detailed environments really are at their best here. It does help that I found the setting so damn engrossing though, with Murder Castle truly one of the best locales features in the series yet. It has some genuinely harrowing sights to encounter that lean heavily into the mind of a crazed serial killer, whilst the way it’s constantly changing will really mess with players’ heads. The game also features some of the most gruesome deaths across the series, so yeah, you’ve got that to look forward to…

I guess the biggest flaw The Devil in Me has is that it hasn’t really changed up much when compared to previous entries. Don’t get me wrong, the setting and storytelling truly do feel unique and there have been some new features included this time around, but it still follows the same structure seen in the previous three games. This hasn’t been a problem for me and I actually appreciate the familiar structure, but it is worth bearing in mind if you were hoping to see a new direction from The Dark Pictures Anthology.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Review

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is fantastic, with the gruesome horrors and storytelling some of the best seen in the series. It even spices up the formula with some new mechanics, whilst the emphasis on using items and solving puzzles will certainly please a lot of players. Add to that the sublime visuals, gripping twists-and-turns, and the brilliant setting, and it’ll be clear that this year’s release is another success for the series – even if it doesn’t re-invent the tried-and-tested formula from the last few years.

Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platform(s): Xbox Series X (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, PC