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The Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes Review – A Respectable Reign Of Mild Terror

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Dark Pictures Anthology’s annual horror adventure game offerings have been mediocre at best, and House of Ashes, the third entry in the series, maintains the status quo. While he boasts of a cool antagonist and good times, his fears and overall adventure lack the punch to make him a terrifying star.

If you’re new to the series, House of Ashes is essentially an interactive horror movie with players watching long cutscenes and hitting surprise button prompts to perform split-second actions at all times. The unwanted press of a button can send a character to an early grave and out of history for good. I always liked the way it kept me engaged in scenes and ensured that the controller never left my hands. However, this design could be frustrating for those who lack a quick trigger finger, which is why I like the new customization and accessibility options. Easy, Normal and Hard modes allow players of all skill levels to enjoy the story as quietly or intensely as they see fit. It’s great that you can also adjust how quickly prompts appear, how long they last on screen, and assign all interactions to the same button. House of Ashes does a great job of expanding its doors for players who lack Spider-Man-caliber reflexes or want to absorb their story with less pressure.

Another great addition is the 360 ​​degree camera control, which allows for a more liberating sense of exploration. It makes finding vital information for the game or premonitions of potential deaths more natural and made me want to dig deeper. However, it’s annoying that the characters turn around like tanks and move slowly throughout. A flashlight mechanic lets you light up areas at will at the expense of movement speed, but I’m disappointed the game never takes advantage of this feature to use in its scares. Many areas have enough light that I kept mine off.

House of Ashes is set in 2003 in Iraq and uses the controversial United States war on the country as the backdrop to tell its story. While searching for Saddam Hussein’s alleged chemical weapons, a dysfunctional squad of US Marines and an Iraqi soldier find themselves stranded together in an underground temple. Trapped, they must cooperate to survive a legion of ancient monsters lurking inside. While you can find historical elements around the edges, the game largely avoids getting into a deeper political conversation outside of ‘war is bad’ and ‘uniforms are just uniforms’, which, in my opinion is for the best. It ultimately serves to push the theme of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” and works in a superficial sense. I figured out without having to worry about Supermassive spoiling its sensitive topic.

If you’re hoping House of Ashes scares your pants off, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed. While the creatures look great and have an intimidating design, I rarely found the game unsettling. House of Ashes feels more like a supernatural action thriller that constantly throws its killers at players after a short stack while relying on a handful of predictable and ineffective jump fears to make them jump. That said, once I gave in to what House of Ashes is looking for, a game of popcorn-chewing monsters, I had fun, and the story has enough intrigue and exciting moments that got me going. made you want to watch the crew dive deeper into the belly of the beast. Sadly, that ended up in a disappointing revelation that flipped the premise of those beasts on its head, and it evaporated any semblance of awe that was left in me.

The small cast of playable characters suffers from internal issues and interpersonal conflicts that stir the pot of drama, some of which seem silly. A love triangle between Rachel (played by Ashley Tisdale), her ex-husband, and her subordinate serves as the main conflict. It’s a strange thing to unpack, given the circumstances. Faced with bloodthirsty and almost invincible creatures, is it really time to decide who you prefer to sleep with? It doesn’t go anywhere and makes the three lovebirds look like dopes who don’t have much of a personality beyond their romantic adventures.

The late Iraqi soldier Salim has become my favorite character due to his understandable motivation to return home to his son and his ability to see the forest from the trees in terms of cooperation. Surprisingly, Jason’s “America # 1” intolerance grew on me too; I found his trauma sobering and his gradual acceptance of Salim, albeit cheesy, endearing, nonetheless. These hapless souls may not strike all of them, but solid performance across the board backs them up, and the game’s impressive graphics presentation remains a highlight.

House of Ashes never nearly terrified or surprised me, but I still found it to be a respectable thriller that should make for an entertaining evening alone or with up to four friends passing the controller. If you’ve enjoyed the anthology so far, you’ll probably enjoy it, too. But if you’ve been waiting for The Dark Pictures to reach the heights of Until Dawn, don’t expect another year.

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