The Devil in Me, in the mind of the murderer

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“If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you” is an evocative quote from Nietzsche; a phrase that encapsulates the human being’s obsession with trying to understand those who are often called monsters, given the atrocity of their actions, in an effort to protect our sanity through dehumanization. Curiosity has always been an engine to evolve, we yearn to find answers and an explanation for everything we do not understand. The crimes committed by the so-called “serial killers” are one of those unknowns that have always aroused (and continue to do so, given the success of series like “Dahmer”) an unhealthy fascination in society.

Based on the story of HH Holmes, the (supposed) first serial killer in the United States, who acted at the end of the 19th century, Supermassive Games firma su mejor trabajo desde Until Dawn. The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me It marks the end of the first season of the series (although a second season has already been confirmed with a premise that will surprise you when it is revealed), and it does so with a return to the tone of his debut film, but covering it with a breakthrough level playable within its usual formula. The result is a finishing touch for this first anthology, and a promising future for the following installments, especially if they continue to evolve based on what has been built here. Without further ado, welcome to the Castle of Murders.

A new amalgamation of references to the genre

The Devil in Me tells us about the unexpected adventure that the five components of Lonnit Entertainment will face, a small television production company with an investigative show on serial killers. To finish their first season, and ensure their continuity, they must make one last memorable show. Their peculiar leader, Charlie, receives a call one day from a collector of HH Holmes objects, who makes them an offer they cannot refuse: shooting the show in his particular recreation, as a tourist attraction, of the Castle of the Holmes Murders. With many doubts on the part of his team, full of internal quarrels among its members, they leave for the island with the aim of giving everything for the program, maybe even their lives…

If you’ve seen the trailer, the references to the Saw series are more than evident. The Castle of Murders is a twisted playground for our host, full of traps and mysteries that he will use to terrify and hunt us down. In this way, the figure of the murderer who plays with us is recovered; Although the tone of Until Dawn was more that of a slasher movie, here we are closer to the terror and tension exerted by sagas like the one starring Jigsaw, but also by products like the wonderful Mindhunter. At Mindhunter we saw the birth of the behavioral sciences unit within the FBI, dedicated to understanding and predicting the behavior of serial killers through rigorous study of their performance. Although it was a program whose objective was not to be framed within terror, it was impossible not to feel horrified by the interviews with these terrifying criminals. The Devil in surprises me, not only sublimely getting us into the role of victims who know they are trapped by someone like that, but also when it comes to exploring the psyche of this murderer.

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The first two thirds of the game or so are focused on delving into our captor’s methodology and motivations, while trying to survive. The Castle of Murders has a delicious design; coherent, varied, disturbing and, above all, full of details and information that help build the profile of the murderer. The setting is unbeatable: a perfect mix of Saw and The Shining (also inspired, without going into spoilers, in a certain cult film of the genre from the 2000s) turn the castle into one more character, capable of generating fear, anxiety and paranoia with enormous ease; Not only are the scares particularly well thought out and introduced, but there are really exhausting sections that play very well with the resources of the setting.

“The best novelty that The Devil in Me includes is its inventory system, which favors the exploration of its settings in a more organic way”

Also, since most of the action takes place indoors, navigation is agile and fastunlike what happened with the esplanades of The Quarry, which slowed down the game too much; its almost eight hours of duration pass in a breath, and the fact that it is so satisfying to travel makes you want to face the adventure again. It is a pity that in its final stretch the title loses rhythm and deflates with a much more bland premisegreatly wasting what was achieved in his previous hours.

A game-changer

Supermassive Games’ games, until now, have always focused on delivering very cinematic horror experiences, heavily supported in their cinematics, exploration, and decisions. Although in The Devil in Me that has not changed, those responsible have greatly increased the player’s ability to interact with the environment, adding new (albeit simple) layers of gameplay that make it feel like a very fresh proposition. It is something that is not only noticeable at the controls, but also directly conditions the level design of the game, more careful and varied than in previous installments.

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Our characters will be able to jump over obstacles, crouch, hide and even move and use elements on the stage such as platforms to reach certain places, in the form of simple puzzles. There will be other challenges that will require our ingenuity, such as looking for codes to open doors, fixing fuse boxes or finding specific keys; of course, we are not facing a Resident Evilbut if you are used to this playable scheme, being able to carry out all these actions in a simple and habitual way in real time.

But without any doubt, The best novelty that The Devil in Me includes is its inventory system. Traditionally, Supermassive Games have offered the player items, but within the framework of decisions. Now each character will have their own inventory, with items that are consistent by their occupation or personality.

The most interesting case, not to gut everyone, is that of Erin, who will have a directional microphone and an inhaler. Erin is asthmatic, so she will need to use the inhaler to catch her breath in stressful situations or in the presence of a lot of dust; however, the inhaler has limited charges, so we’ll have to ration them wisely. For her part, the directional microphone will help us to orient ourselves, as well as to star in a memorable and distressing sequence. Some objects will serve us to illuminate, open certain boxes or doors, etc., while others will determine our destiny depending on what situations. Finding and taking advantage of the inventory will help us, in addition to getting all the collectibles and information (an element that can also condition our success), to favor the exploration of their scenarios in an organic wayIn fact, it is the company’s game in which I have found the highest percentage of documents in the first round, thanks to how much this design favors us thoroughly investigating the rooms. Of course, it could have been used more, and if it suits the whole so well, it is because we are used to the simplicity of other titles from the developer; however, that does not mean that it adds fun and variety, without sacrificing the film cut of the proposal.

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As if that were not enough, focusing on the decisions and the characters, The Devil in Me also succeeds, offering a cast as archetypal as adequate for this story, with some motivations and dynamics among its components that are very well exploited at the narrative level. The crossroads in which we will find ourselves are complicated and interesting, with many inflection points that, without a doubt, we will want to return to at the end of the game to try other outcomes. Once again though, I must point out how much The Devil in Me falls flat in its last third, that it forgets to take advantage of everything it has previously built to give an emotionless denouement.

The successful setting of The Devil in Me It would not be possible without a technical section to match. It is true that, although it is above what is seen in the rest of the anthology, It does not reach the levels of photorealism seen in The Quarry, especially with regard to the facial expressions and animations of the protagonists.. Even so, everything that concerns the settings, effects and the sound section is outstanding, successfully achieving the terrifying experience they were looking for. Playing The Devil in Me with headphones has been one of the scariest experiences of the year.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is one of the company’s best games, as well as one of the horror titles of the year. Thanks to a fascinating and well-used premise (at least, most of the time), as well as an interest in revitalizing its playable formula, The Devil in Me is an abyss worth peering into; a successful title both when it comes to amuse and scare. It is true that he could have been more ambitious when introducing these new mechanics that, although they add a lot to the whole, are still very simple; however, they establish an exciting base for the future.