Reviews for Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes have divided reviews, but most agree that the narrative horror tale does what it sets out to do.
With the spooky season now upon us, gamers looking for something horror-themed to play on Halloween might already have their eyes set on Supermassive Games’ latest installment. The Anthology of Dark Images series, House of Ashes. This is the third entry in the series, with Ashley Tisdale leading House of Ashes‘, continuing the Supermassive trend bringing TV and film actors into their unique horror world.
Reviews have come out for House of Ashes and the general consensus among critics seems to be overwhelmingly favorable, but some believe the anthology series may show signs of stagnation when it comes to its gameplay structure and the implementation of its fears. Aside from these concerns, critics also have a lot to say about the narrative and setting of the game, with some disagreement over how Supermassive did.
How scary is The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes?
Supermassive has released a slew of horror games since 2015, but after all this time, can the studio still keep gamers on the edge of their seats? According to IGN’s Ricky Frech, The answer is yes. In his review, Frech writes that “House of Ashes done well is the same that did Until dawn so special. Supermassive is good at building tension throughout his best times, and he subtly uses the environment to achieve it. I never know what’s going to happen around the next corner, and Supermassive is great for mixing up both jumping fears and other ways to keep you on your toes. “
Other reviewers have explained how House of Ashes often works against his own terror. Richard Wakeling of GameSpot expressed that “House of Ashes is never particularly scary … The narrow confines of the temple’s labyrinthine pathways intentionally restrict both your movement and your field of vision, creating what would be a heart-wrenching feeling of claustrophobia in almost any other horror game. The problem is, you are never in danger when directly controlling a character. Peril only exists during fast-paced events, so aside from a few well-timed scares, navigating the game’s narrow arteries is relatively fearless. The creatures are also shown early and often, so any fear of the unknown is extinguished fairly quickly. “
Scary stories to tell in the dark
Supermassive captured a certain mix of classic B horror movie narratives without them ending up as schlock in their previous titles, and it seems Ash houses is heading towards this familiar territory. In their review, Tom Orry from VG247 wrote how Ash housesThe plot is “largely a bit of a cliché, especially in the early stages. You are told the story of an ancient terror living underground in a Sumerian temple. Fast forward to the Iraq war and we meet a bunch of war movie stereotypes that you can only shape a certain amount. “
A larger point of discussion is House of Ashes‘setting and characters, set in Iraq in 2003, while the Iraq war is on, with the playable characters including soldiers on both sides. Wakeling of GameSpot appreciated this direction, noting how “the Middle East is rarely used as a video game setting outside of your typical chauvinistic military shooter, and these games are generally not interested in presenting both sides of the conflict. They perpetuate often anti-Arab sentiments instead, playing on stereotypes and dehumanizing tropes that portray Arabs as little more than bloodthirsty insurgents. House of Ashes is Salim … Rather than lazily calling him a villain because he’s on the anti-American side, Supermassive does a great job of humanizing Salim and making him someone you care about and want to ensure that he survives. “Not everyone was impressed with Supermassive’s handling of the topic, however. VG247’s Orry felt that the game’s” attempts to make it feel less Oorah seems a bit forced … The game is trying to ‘tackle difficult topics, even 9/11, but it’s more on the surface level. “
Is a choice game always fun?
The gameplay of Supermassive’s horror games mostly followed the decision-based design set in the 2015s. Until dawn, with a few new mechanics added throughout The Anthology of Dark Images securities. This is another point of division among House of Ashesreviews – does this formula still do the job, or is it becoming a tired curl?
Ian Higton from Eurogamer describes this split, writing that “not everyone will be in the story House of Ashes tries to say it and indeed the way he puts it – if you’re the type of person to roll your eyes over QTE segments in games, you might not find this to your liking. The show’s incredibly patient approach to choice and consequences just might lead to frustration. Some choices you make have clear and immediate consequences … but other results won’t become apparent until literal hours later in the story … “
IGN’s Frech believes that the stagnation is much more important, reflecting how “the facial capture is still excellent, even if sometimes the necks of the characters seem to be made of liquid. The environments are sometimes beautiful while others will remind you of you. Supermassive no longer works with a big Sony budget. Movement is awkward although we now have full control over the camera while crawling. Most of the gameplay in House of Asheshe battery life of about six hours comes down to making choices and performing different types of QTE. It’s a formula Supermassive has used with varying success over its last three. Dark images matches, but under the right circumstances it pays off anyway. “
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