The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Review – Right at Holmes


The Dark Pictures: The Devil Inside Me on PC

The Dark Pictures Anthology, a standalone horror game series known to fans as one of the most immersive and interactive experiences the genre has to offer, recently released its fourth installment. The Devil in Me is the final “episode” of the anthology’s first season and it takes its plot straight from the 1800s focusing on none other than HH Holmes himself. If you can’t find the name familiar, you haven’t missed any feats of a great man. Holmes was a grave robber and serial killer, made infamous for his tales of his “murder castle” where he was supposed to lure potential victims. The Devil in Me is inspired by Holmes and his castle, presenting the game’s characters and its players with a modern-day replica of the mortal abode. There are puzzles, platforms and choices to be made, but how is it overall?

Although The Devil in Me is inspired by Holmes, it is by no means an accurate account of his murderous career. The tutorial is set in the past, in 1893. A young husband and wife have come to Chicago, booking a stay at the hotel owned by none other than Holmes himself. The couple are murdered by the killer and then used for their own profit.

In The Devil in Me, Holmes is a criminal in every sense of the word. He kills and robs, selling both bodies and the profitable goods that accompany them. Even though Holmes wasn’t necessarily the kind of murderer portrayed (the idea that his hotel exists to attract potential victims is widely believed to be false), the idea of ​​a place meant to serve as a home being a deadly trap. is unsettling and matches the theme of the games. Holmes himself is a unique portrayal of a killer in the media, as players would find no reason to sympathize with such a man, killing for no reason and shamelessly taking advantage of his victims. It’s certainly not a case of romanticizing as has been the case with other serial killers in modern depictions (I’m looking at you, Ted Bundy stans).

Team the Devil in Me
Image source: Bandai Namco via Twinfinite

The tutorial ends and the setting transports you from the past to the present. That’s when we’re introduced to the diverse cast, a group of five characters working as a film crew. As they all grapple with personal issues, from breakups to potential relationships, they receive a mysterious invitation that may mean real business for them. The reality series they were working on, Architects of Murder, is going bankrupt. Fortunately, a mysterious man known as Granthem Du’Met invites them to visit his hotel. The hotel turns out to be a replica of HH Holmes’ infamous murder hotel, except that replica turns out not to be all for show.

The hotel is riddled with traps, just like Holmes’s, and figures made from the bodies of the victims. Du’Met is a terrifying copycat killer, an extreme version of contemporary people romanticizing the psychopaths of the past. I found the spooky elements of the game to be really scary, but there were some points that broke my immersion. Fans of murder mystery, fans of story-based horror, and fans of interactive games that rely heavily on your own decisions… we all want the same thing. A sweet and scary experience. Some of Devil in Me’s puzzles didn’t work very well, and the way the game mechanically deviated from previous titles left me confused at times.

Map of Granthem DuMet
Image source: Bandai Namco via Twinfinite

The season finale introduced new movement mechanics such as climbing, jumping, and running. It also introduced players to a new inventory system and more hands-on puzzles, requiring the use of tools. I thought a lot of these new features were really good to add to the game, but might have been better rolled out in the next season’s pilot episode rather than the game serving as the season finale. The one thing I would definitely praise about the changes is the fact that each character had their own unique item that they could use. It was pretty cool and added depth to the characters.

If you’ve ever played a Dark Pictures game, you’ll know how much a game like this relies on good narrative design. I think Devil in Me was missing a bit here, with long stretches where I just had to move things around to progress that could have been spent on more story building. While I really enjoy exploring, it’s not really the series of games I frequent to explore but more for the experience. I want character and plot-driven moments more than I want long “in-between” moments. The anthology finale would have been more immersive for me had it leaned more towards a story-centric experience rather than veering away from it a bit to allow for new gameplay mechanics.

Mannequin devil in me
Image source: Bandai Namco via Twinfinite

Either way, the changes are positive in the sense that they served as an introduction to what the future of the anthology might hold. Perhaps we’ll have longer, more fleshed out experiences that strike the perfect balance between immersion in the terrifying story and exploration to put the pieces together to continue that very story.

The devil in me definitely remains in the show’s beautifully constructed world, but sadly fails when it comes to making it less empty. There are far fewer dialogue options in this title with characters than in those that came before it, further adding to the list of changes that weren’t necessary to make in the finale, the game that could have left a real mark for the series.

Overall, I don’t think The Devil in Me is boring, but it’s also not as impressive as I’d expect a season finale to be. If you’re a fan of the anthology and don’t want to miss this episode, be sure to grab it. Otherwise, start with another title from the first season that was more well received like House of Ashes or Man of Medan. I’d praise the concept of a copycat killer, especially in a time when many seem to revere such figures, but I wouldn’t praise the gameplay changes that swerved this title from the anthology. The story, as is always the case with anthology entries, is definitely unique and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my experience with it.

Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me Review

Reviewer: Anna Koselke | Copy provided by the publisher.