In late summer 2019, Supermassive Games, the studio behind the excellent Until Dawn, returned with a new concept: offering a multi-episode horror anthology. The peculiarity of these rather short multiple choice horror games (between 5am and 7am) is that each story is independent from the others and that it is inspired by urban myths and legends. After you have embarked on the Man of Medan, after you have passed through the terrifying city of Little Hopes, change the scene!
House of Ashes takes players to Iraq, during the war in the early 2000s. The protagonists are part of the American special forces. In search of the weapons of mass destruction hidden by Saddam Hussein, they will explore the buried ruins of a Sumerian temple. Obviously, nothing will go as planned. They will awaken a curse that is thousands of years old and follow in the footsteps of a mysterious expedition led in the 1940s.
House of Ashes uses the principle from previous Supermassive Games games. It is a cinematic narrative game based on exploration, QTE (a key to press or an action to be performed as quickly as possible) and, above all, crucial decisions to be made. Indeed, the player has the destiny of five protagonists in his hands and will have to do everything (or not!) For the team to reach the end of the adventure in full force. For that, it will be necessary to make the right decisions!
There are some welcome new features in the game compared to the previous episode. From now on, doing nothing or saying nothing is also a choice that can have consequences. So sometimes you just don’t have to go where the game wants to take you. Unlike Little Hope, you no longer feel like you are controlling one and a half ton wax dolls and that is greatly appreciated. Finally, the graphics have also been greatly improved compared to the episode released a year ago. House of Ashes even looked pretty good on the Xbox Series X version we tested. In short, after Little Hope’s little disappointment last year, House of Ashes is much more compelling and a good surprise.
A horror game, really?
On the other hand, one thing is certain: we are moving further and further away from the horror game. There’s blood and some pretty terrifying fantastic creatures, but at no point did House of Ashes scare us off. Hence, Supermassive Games seems to have dropped their trademark of at least releasing a good old jump scare. This is good news for the flipette team, but players looking to freak out may be disappointed. However, House of Ashes offers an interesting, even captivating, well-organized adventure with no downtime. It took us 7 hours of playtime to get over it and bring our five characters home. Then you are free to start the adventure again by making other decisions to discover the importance of the decisions. Finally, if the game is perfectly playable alone, it can also be enjoyed by several online or up to five players behind the same console. A good idea for a Halloween party, for example!
The next episode has already been released!
House of Ashes is not a revolution. However, the experience offered is sympathetic, pleasant and much more compelling than Little Hopes, the previous work. It remains to be seen if you’re ready to spend € 30 on a game that lasts between five and seven hours (but with appreciable replayability!). Or we will have to wait for the compilation that includes all the episodes of The Dark Pictures Anthology. At the end of House of Ashes, we are also entitled to a teaser of the next work that will close the first season of this anthology. The change of scenery will continue as “The Devil in Me” will tell the story of a deranged man reminiscent of the “Saw” saga and who seems to appreciate the experiences that make people suffer. A date has not been announced, but it is a safe bet that it will be released in September 2022. 3.5 / 5
Check out the trailer for The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes:
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