Did you catch our coverage of Little Hope‘s keynote? It gives a tantalizing glimpse into the world of the next game in the Dark Pictures Anthology. Of course, if you are one to go in blind, then you might’ve not seen it. If you’re dying – hah – to know more, you can always read it before you come back here.
While we can call Little Hope a sequel, the anthology itself consists of standalone games, which doesn’t stop Supermassive Games from dropping hints of the games to come. We asked Pete Samuels, Supermassive’s CEO and Director of the Dark Pictures Anthology, to answer some of our questions post keynote. Read on to learn more!
Something we wondered about is the photorealistic style for the games, since hand-drawn art can deliver high quality scares too. Samuels explains that they want to give the impression of playing a movie, or an episode of a TV series.
For us the best way to achieve this is with a photo realistic style utilizing motion capture and high – quality facial animations. Cinematic fidelity is highly important to us to help drive the emotion we want in our games.
The experience is kept fresh thanks to fantastic writers, designers, directors and staff across all disciplines so that every The Dark Pictures Anthology story is unique and tells an interesting, intriguing and compelling story every time.
We pride ourselves on creating highly cinematic, high quality narrative branching games – so as long as we get the story right every time then the Anthology and the games within it should always feel new and fresh.
He mentions the addition of features – new choice visualization, cameras, QTE systems – that are in Little Hope, and that they’re always looking to update the games as they learn from their work and from listening to the community.
BUILDING THE ANTHOLOGY
Now, about the games proper. People have found hints for Little Hope in Man of Medan, so we asked if they would consider updating the games in the anthology to have routes that tie in to each other. Considering the standalone nature, Samuels tells us that while the games are in the same universe, he doesn’t see even more tie-ins, but he does mention that there will be Easter eggs and little threads in each game to clue you in to future games.
Even in Man of Medan you have hints towards Little Hope and the next game after that – so look out for those!
Of course, they will continue to support Man of Medan as it is integral to the anthology: any new features in future games can potentially be implemented into the past games. Once again, thanks to the standalone nature of the games, these changes don’t need to be in at the very beginning. They’re hoping to incrementally gain fans as each game launches, so all of them need to be comparable with each other.
As mentioned, the storylines are separate from game to game due to the standalone nature, though the hints and clues are fair game. The Curator is the one consistent element throughout the anthilogy, and Samuels says even he too, has his own story arc. Each story will reveal a little more about the man. Regarding consistency, he says The Dark Pictures has a set of pillars they go by:
- All playable characters can live or die
- All games have a basis within a real-world truth, fact, legend or myth
- All games have branching storylines
From there, they tell the story they want to tell.
You might have heard, or experienced, the difficulty of getting the “everyone dies” ending in Man of Medan. It seems quite unusual for a horror game to seemingly be so difficult to get everyone killed, when you think of how Until Dawn is able to kill characters even as they attempt to save someone else. Samuels thinks the opposite is probably in effect for Little Hope, so good luck trying to get the “everyone lives” ending!
He does believe that “best” or “hardest” ending is up to individual preference, with the choices tying into these route branches. He acknowledges the different ways players play: kill ’em all, then try save them in another route, or get rid of that one annoying character you dislike.
That’s the great thing about our games, we build them with replayability in mind so every playthrough can be different!
Then, what about the Curator? We now know he’s got his own story arc, but why introduce him in the first place?
We wanted a character who could address the player directly. We wanted an ambiguous character. Why is he there? Is he there to help or hinder you?
We’ll sure be looking forward to the rest of the games as they reveal his story, for one! Samuels praises Pip Torrens, the Curator’s voice, in bringing him to life, and the positive feedback from the community is surely proof of that. Samuels also adds that they want to ease the tension, so players can be taken out of the situation momentarily and take a break from the atmosphere and horror. The Curator can then discuss with them their progress so far, and perhaps provide that wisdom you need.
ON LITTLE HOPE
When you think of Man of Medan, there’s pretty much only Fliss’ ship, the Duke of Milan, and the Ourang Medan where you may really explore. Little Hope won’t be open world as you might expect, but Samuels says there’s plenty of paths, roads, and buildings to explore. He brings up the new camera implementation once again, which will allow players to have complete 360 camera control in certain scenes so that you can really immerse yourself in the environment.
The playable cast in the anthology so far have been kept small compared to Until Dawn‘s 8. Simply put, Samuels feels that 5 is just the right amount to be able to tell the story the way they want it to.
The games will always have 5 playable characters and we feel this is the right amount of characters to tell the story we want to tell. It allows the player to play each of them in a meaningful way and allows them to define attributes and relationships with each other within a 4 to 5 hour play through. We build the games with replayability in mind. This means that even though you have five playable characters, the way they behave can be different on each playthrough.
If you’ve seen the trailers and read the keynote, Little Hope introduces “time travel”, which already gives it a more fantastical spin to the Actually Only Ordinary Man of Medan. Samuels is coy about his answer, not wanting to reveal too much of Little Hope. He merely says that different time periods have been used to build and tell the story. The main part of the game will be set in the present day, and in the same universe as Man of Medan. How the time periods will intersect will be up to us to discover when the game launches.
Are you in the camp of Man of Medan being overreliant on jump scares? Samuels loves them, though the side effect on working in horror games means he can spot them when he watches new horror films. He considers them to be integral to horror, but to use them to ease the tension of a situation, rather than simply scaring people. He believes jump scares are very difficult to set up properly due to needing to consider the situation that leads up to the scare, and not just the scare itself.
He doesn’t think they rely on such methods, saying it’s the build up of atmosphere, tension, audio, dialogue working together in a horror situation.
It isn’t always about blood and gore – our games are about human emotions under unimaginable stress and terror and we like to build our horror elements against the backdrop of this.
I quite like listening to Youtubers playing horror games, and got curious if Supermassive has considered more direct integration of the game, and the audience, as in with votes or commands through stream chat. They have considered it, answers Samuels, with the nature of their games possibly lending quite well to such options. He says the community tends to do this on their own either way, and had created the multiplayer modes in the anthology based on how players played Until Dawn.
People are able to come together socially and collaboratively, as seen in Man of Medan‘s couch co-op or online, and it will continue to be a feature in the Dark Pictures games moving forward. Samuels likewise acknowledges influencers and their communities in being fantastic ambassadors for their games even without any in-built voting or chat functionality.
If nothing else, the co-op option is something I definitely appreciate a lot, because I’m not the biggest fan of horror, but having a friend together can help ease one’s self into the genre. Mostly by screaming together, but hey. After that, with the branching nature within The Dark Pictures Anthology, friends can discuss the various decisions and plot points they encountered on the way. There’s the social aspect the games can provide, as you try to be brave for one another.
The storylines so far have been disparate enough to pique my interest. The games are in the same universe, so does that mean there’s actually nothing as fantastic as “time travel” occurring? Or is it something else? I’m looking forward to how the story unfolds, and how the community comes together to piece together the hints before the game releases. The theories are always one of the most fun parts!
Little Hope is set for a Summer 2020 release. May you survive the witching hour.