The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes (DLC) Review
Kevin "Berserker" Hall
House of Ashes is just as good as Until Dawn. Be sure to check it out!
Player(s): 1 (single player), 2 (online co-op), 2–5 (local)
House of Ashes is the third game of the Dark Pictures Anthology. Just like Until Dawn, Man of Medan and Little Hope, the game is an interactive cutscene-driven survival horror developed by Supermassive Games. If you’re a fan of the rest of the Dark Pictures series of horror games, you should know what to expect with House of Ashes. I still haven’t played Little Hope, but House of Ashes is far better than Man of Medan for me. This game has some great characters and an overall good story to go with them.
House of Ashes takes place in 2003. We join up with a military unit that is searching for chemical weapons in Iraq. The team goes to a town in search of a hidden underground area. Before long, Iraqi soldiers arrive and a firefight breaks out between both sides. An earthquake happens that causes the ground to split open and both sides get trapped in a Sumerian temple underneath the Arabian desert. While looking for a way out, they discover that they are not alone and that they have disturbed the lair of something evil that lurks in the dark. Just like Until Dawn, House of Ashes goes the “creature feature” route instead of paranormal.
House of Ashes has a very cool story with some great characters. Compared to the other games in the series, the most unique part about this game is that you have enemies that have to come together to focus on fighting an even greater enemy. “The enemy of my enemy is my fried” is the main theme in House of Ashes. One of the best parts about the game is that none of the characters come across as annoying. Some of them are very headstrong and some seem kind of boring from the get go, but all of them change somewhat as the story progresses.
Just like the other games in the series, you decide who lives and who dies based on your decisions and actions. Some instances that lead to death can be quite surprising, so you can expect a few characters to die on your first playthrough. The most enjoyable part of this type of game is figuring out how everything works and what choices lead to death. Just like all the other Dark Pictures games, the game has tons of replay value thanks to the different decisions and there are also many collectibles to find.
House of Ashes plays out with tons of Quick Time Events (QTEs). The game has all of the same QTE sequence that you’ll find in prior games (button tap, breathing minigame, etc). Since you are playing as soldiers that are armed, you can expect a bunch of QTE shooting segments (aim with a crosshair then press a button to fire). Soldiers in horror don’t always work well since the soldiers can be over-prepared or just plain boring (watch the Hill Have Eyes 2 for soldiers done bad in horror), but House of Ashes handles all of this quite well. Even though the main characters are fairly well armed, the creatures they face aren’t that affected by bullets. Bullets only slow them down. Besides QTEs, the game also has many segments that allow you to explore an environment and interact with objects and collectibles.
House of Ashes has a lot of the same performance issues that you’ll find in Man of Medan. The games sometimes skips frames and sometimes the framerate lowers. This game was reviewed on PS4. I’m pretty sure that the new systems iron out many of the performance issues that I found with the PS4 version, but I’m not sure on that. The overall graphics engine has not changed much from the rest of the games in the Dark Pictures series. House of Ashes has some really good environments and the lighting is quite good. You’ll light your way with either a gun light or a lighter while exploring. The game is not as scary as the rest of the horror games in Supermassive’s collection, but it does have its moments that can really catch your off guard. The jump scares are much fewer and far between compared to the rest of the series.
The overall sound is good and the characters are all voiced very well. It appears that Jason and Salim have the most time put into their characters. That might just be because of the path that I chose however. Once again, the Curator’s Cut (full game from another viewpoint) is tied to the game as a preorder bonus and will be released for free in about another three months to those that didn’t preorder. This marketing of the DLC is highly annoying, but at least everyone gets it eventually, I suppose...?
Overall if you’ve played a Dark Picture Anthology game, you know what to expect with House of Ashes. They seem to all play around the same but have different stories and gameplay circumstances. Whether the story is good or not, or characters are interesting or boring is all left up to opinion for the most part. One thing is for sure though – if you’re a horror fan, you really need to get into this series, because it has some great stories to tell and some nice moments of horror to share. House of Ashes is my personal favorite of the Dark Pictures games so far and it definitely rivals Until Dawn. It’s hard to say it’s better than Until Dawn, because they both have their ups and downs, but it’s definitely a contender.
Final Rating: 80%
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher. This game was reviewed on PlayStation 4.
Transmitted: 6/3/2023 1:54:45 AM