Best Dark Pictures Anthology games ranked: Switchback, Devil in Me & more
The games in The Dark Pictures Anthology offer a spooky blend of cinematic and survival horror gameplay, but which is the best, and how do they compare with each other?
Like other games in Supermassive’s impressive horror collection such as Until Dawn and The Quarry, The Dark Pictures Anthology is a series of survival horror games that are essentially playable movies where you control the character’s fates. Each game tells its own scary story and the credits can either roll over a traumatized, but grateful-to-be-alive, group of survivors – or a sea of mangled corpses. It all depends on your choices.
While every game in the series is worth playing, some are more celebrated than others or leave a longer-lasting impression. It now looks like we’ll get the release of a Dark Pictures game every year around Halloween, but if you’re just starting your journey through the Curator’s library, here’s every previous chapter ranked.
5. Switchback VR
Switchback is an on-the-rails shooter (much like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood) VR game that borrows from previous Dark Pictures chapters for its sections. It’s a game for VR owners who enjoy the Dark Pictures universe and serves as a celebration of its first season. The gameplay is different from the slow, cinematic, survival horror we’ve come to expect from the series, but it’s a fun distraction while we wait for Season 2. You’ll need to own a VR set to take part, of course.
4. A Little Hope
Being set in a town full of ghosts is just as scary as it sounds, and the second entry of The Dark Pictures Anthology can actually be the scariest in many ways. A Little Hope, as a town, takes lots of inspiration from Silent Hill and the developers really increased the creep factor for this entry.
The issue is that A Little Hope does little to push the series forward from a technical point of view and is just as janky as Man of Medan. The tale it tells is also not quite as good as others in the Anthology, despite the setting being one of the most spinetingling.
3. The Devil in Me
Taking inspiration from the real life murders of H.H. Holmes, as well as fictional slashers like Halloween, with a dose of Saw thrown in, The Devil in Me sees a documentary film crew trapped in a house of horrors while a relentless serial killer tries to pick them off one-by-one. It’s tense, scary, and full of grim surprises, but it often leans too heavily on the Saw influence and less on the awesome atmosphere it builds up at the start of the game.
It also needlessly pads out the adventure with boring exploration sections that kill the tension rather than build it. Previous entries got this balance right, whereas here it just feels like filler. Dark Pictures games benefit from their bitesize runtimes due to their replay value, so The Devil in Me falls short here.
2. Man of Medan
The original and first chapter of The Dark Pictures Anthology is still a superb playable horror movie if you can look past its wonky controls and the stilted movements of the characters. However, a group of rich kids stuck on a ghost ship being stalked by pirates is still one of the scariest settings ever. Imagine Captain Philips meets Until Dawn with a sprinkle of Resident Evil Revelations and you’ve got the vibe.
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Those who’ve played games like Until Dawn or The Quarry and are looking for a nice entry point into The Dark Pictures Anthology owe it to themselves to start here. It’s dated compared to the more recent chapters, but still one of the strongest.
1. House of Ashes
House of Ashes pits a group of CIA and US Army soldiers in a deep underground tunnel system in the Middle East while they are stalked by ancient vampire creatures. Relations between the protagonists are fraught as each character works to not only stay alive but to exorcise their inner demons – and avoid getting eaten alive by the real life ones hunting them.
The game is the strongest entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology so far, being set in a terrifying environment while monsters, prejudice, and paranoia threaten to literally and figuratively tear the group apart. It mostly wins the top spot due to it having the most interesting cast of characters when compared to other entries in the Anthology. In this game, not only do you need to work to keep your characters alive, you find yourself wondering if you even should. Does everyone deserve a second chance or redemption?
Don’t forget, Season 2 of The Dark Pictures Anthology kicks off with Directive 8020, possibly in Fall 2023. It’s also worth checking out Supermassive’s other horror games, The Quarry and Until Dawn.
Check out more horror gaming lists below to find plenty of exciting titles to play:
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