Review of the friv game The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - The Long, Long Night


We've been on a thrilling online quest and spent a few tense hours in one of this year's best horror games, and now we're ready to share our impressions in our final Little Hope review.

You may be familiar with Friv2Online Games Studio ambitious plan to release an anthology of horror games, each set in a new setting, with new characters and events unrelated to the other games in the series.

The first installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology was last year's Man of Medan, which sent players to a ghost ship, and now it's the turn of Little Hope, set in the quiet and gloomy town of Little Hope, where a group of four students, led by a teacher, are stranded.

The plot is trivial for the genre: in the middle of a deserted road suddenly appears a little girl, the bus driver fails to cope with the control, coming to their senses after the accident, the passengers go to the nearest village for help. On the way they are enveloped by a mysterious fog, and the heroes begin to be haunted by eerie visions, strange doppelgangers and nightmarish monsters.

Each of the characters is a unique individual. The characters, though outlined in broad strokes, give an idea of the line of behavior of the participants of events: for example, the professor likes to command, but a little cowardly, and the old lady-student does not go for a word in his pocket and, despite her age, even monsters are able to fight back. In the course of the action you can slightly interfere in the characters' images: the same teacher under your guidance will be able to overcome fear and make a heroic deed... or not - depends only on you.

In general, in Little Hope, your choices affect a lot of things - yes, almost everything, from the development of the plot and the ending to how many characters will make it to the finale. Entering into skirmishes with your friends, you should not forget that a word said in the heart can bounce back many hours later. The more interesting it is to play in a company, passing the gamepad to each other when changing actors - so the narrative turns out to be more lively and unpredictable.

For five hours, which takes passing the friv game, you can develop a couple of romantic lines, maximally unite the group, or on the contrary - to quarrel everyone, forcing them to survive alone. Not always the consequences of the decisions made in dialogs are obvious, and sometimes it can be useful to look in a special menu and see what happened within the individual storylines. The friv game carefully keeps all the key moments, shows the main features of characters' personalities and their relationships, and if you thoroughly search locations - it will also give you hints about possible future, just like in Man of Medan and Until Dawn, the studio's previous works.

Following the story and building connections between the characters is interesting. The story, which intertwines the distant past and present, witch hunts and small-town mysteries, keeps you in suspense and does not reveal the secrets until the finale.

This is interesting: Little Hope is one of the neighborhoods of the town of Andover, Massachusetts. In the late 17th century, some of the town's female residents were accused of conspiring with the devil and executed. These events are what inspired Supermassive Games to work on Little Hope.

The way the story ends is a bit disconcerting, but makes you think hard about the decisions you made. Given the multiple paths of progression and multiple endings, it provides incentive to go through the friv game again - perhaps even multiple times. For example, in my first playthrough, only two of the five made it to the finale, and I'll definitely be traveling to Little Hope again to try to bring everyone to the denouement.

The cinematic nature of the friv game also encourages me to revisit the cursed city. Little Hope looks like a good movie - or rather, if you take into account the length, a mini-series. I was impressed by the detailing and animation of the characters' faces: they look as alive, but there is no "ominous valley" effect. The voice-over did not let me down (not counting the wrongly chosen, in my opinion, voice of one of the characters): the contrast between the speech of the characters from the present and the distant past, where words that are not peculiar to modern times are used, was very well realized.

But there are questions about the direction. Sometimes you get the impression that the virtual operator can't decide which angle is better to take, and grabs not the most successful shots. Some dialogs are dragged out. It happens that the characters seem to teleport behind the frame, unnaturally quickly arriving in places where they should not be. And one of the creepy scenes, in which the heroes encountered a monster, is not frightening, but funny: the monster barely drags behind the students, while those, stumbling and falling, can not escape from him.

In this episode you couldn't fight back, but in some other episodes you can. As usual for games of "interactive movie" genre, the battles are built on QTE: if you had time to press the right button or aim at the enemy - you performed the action, if you didn't have time or made a mistake - you failed, which can lead to serious problems - even death. One or two misses are not critical, but it is better not to abuse the fact that the friv game forgives small mistakes.

Sometimes it's better not to do something than to do it. You have a gun in your hands, a blurry figure appears in the fog - should you shoot or not? It's up to you, and you have to deal with the consequences.

There are few other activities: walk around the location, explore the illuminated points of interest, turn objects in your hands. The authors of Little Hope took into account the criticism of Man of Medan, so the characters walk faster and more willingly respond to commands, the camera behavior became more free, and before QTE there are unobtrusive hints that signal what you need to do: for example, the icon with legs means that you have to jump (and its position on the screen hints at a particular gamepad button), and the icon of a fist notifies about the upcoming fight. It's convenient and minimizes the risk of false presses.

Shortly before the release of Little Hope, a small event for Russian media was organized. The participants of the presentation were gathered at Zoom, very vaguely explaining the essence of the event. At the appointed time, the journalists met the presenter Enryu and his cameraman John. The event was broadcast from their cameras in Live mode, so observers could communicate with the participants in real time.

According to Andrew, the event was supposed to be a presentation of the new chapter of The Dark Pictures Anthology, and the event was held at the base of "Claustrophobia" in the gloomy scenery of an abandoned building. The situation seemed to be a strange quirk of the developers, until we started up an old computer, after which the broadcast was interrupted and the story keeper appeared before us.

The observer explained that our task was now to find our way to Little Hope with the help of the trapped Andrew and John. What happened next was like a "get out of the room" quest, with the only difference being that the actions of the live people in the frame depended directly on the advice of the journalists on the other side of the screen.

The situation obliged us to make difficult decisions for the heroes, and we had to act immediately - the guys were pursued by a creepy-looking creature. All interactive events were accompanied by the usual for the friv game interface elements. Heroes, like horror characters, had different characters and reacted differently to what was happening.

In addition, we saw echoes of the events that unfolded in the Black Key Hotel two hundred years ago, where the last witch from Little Hope lived, and several found photos warned journalists about the possible consequences of some elections.

Unfortunately, only the cameraman survived to the end of the event, we were not able to save the presenter. At the end of the event the organizers explained why Andrew died and how the system of hints, conditional points of characters' lives, causes and effects of the new project works. We suggest to watch the recording of the event in the attached video.

Returning to the game, I would like to mention the picture separately: not only the characters' faces, but also the surroundings look great. Especially well done thick volumetric fog, which suggests the idea that this is how the new part of Silent Hill series could look like. It is noticeable that to achieve such an impressive level of graphics the authors had to make compromises: locations are compact and fenced with natural obstacles, and a good third of the screen is occupied by cinematic strips - they both contribute to immersiveness, and relieve the hardware of PC or console.

And speaking of Silent Hill, the friv game features references to many popular horror titles. And fans of the anthology will surely be glad to see the mysterious Guardian again (who will also give out a small passahal for Man of Medan owners) and to hear the title theme A Conversation with Death performed by Khemmis.

Little Hope leaves a positive impression - expectedly, considering the track record of the friv game makers. And the third installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology is on the way: it was announced right in the game, with a trailer after the end credits. It seems that Supermassive Games is just gaining momentum and preparing us many more dark stories.

Review of the friv game The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - The Long, Long Night