Dark Pictures: How Little Hope could improve on Man of Medan

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope | Supermassive Games

This article contains spoilers for Man of Medan.

Little Hope is the second installment in the Dark Pictures Anthology. The release date is still uncertain, and listed as ‘Summer 2020’, but rumoured to be some time in June.

With Man of Medan, Suppermassive Games followed on from the excellent Until Dawn with a very different approach. While the core gameplay was similar, the focus on multiplayer and a shorter playtime made it feel very different.

There’s a strong emphasis on player choice in both games: You’re reminded that a wrong decision could end up killing anyone in the main cast at any moment.

Man of Medan was a blast when played with friends, whether in the local ‘Movie Night’ mode or online at a distance. Here are a few things I’m hoping for when Little Hope drops soon:

Tighter storyline

While the stories of Until Dawn and Man of Medan won’t exactly change your life, they make you care about characters enough that their deaths have weight. The consequences of a wrong move made in the heat of the moment often leads to emotional experiences.

This is particularly true when playing Man of Medan with friends, and accidentally killing everyone’s favourite character.

That said, there were a few loose ends in Man of Medan. The shorter gameplay actually suits the multiplayer concept, because it can feasibly be played in one night. But a few mysteries are left completely unexplained, like Fliss’s fake diving license.

Until Dawn had a lot of threads, but was long enough to justify them. And this actually worked really nicely, as the player is kept guessing what the true threat is until about 75% through the game.

It’s a challenge to write a neat script for such a short game, and Little Hope will presumably have a similar runtime. But perhaps a slightly simpler story that focuses on a few core elements is best for a game that lasts around 4-5 hours.

More branching paths

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope | Supermassive Games

Branching narratives are by far the biggest challenge a game like this faces. As with Detroit: Become Human and Hidden Agenda, the more choices that are added, the more the developers have to exponentially keep adding consequences to those choices.

That said, Man of Medan improved on Until Dawn in this way. There were a few surprising outcomes for actions, like the fact that Conrad can die or escape about an hour or so in.

More of these wild possibilities, such as characters exiting early and having a bigger impact on the rest of the story, would be most welcome in Little Hope.

More lore

Man of Medan did a decent job of bringing to life the true story of the S.S. Ourang Medan (albeit with supernatural elements thrown in).

But a lot of the explanations come in the form of written documents, and it’s hard to justify stopping to read them all the time when playing with friends.

It looks like Little Hope is based on the Salem Witch Trials, and delving even further into this history will really help flesh out the game. A short, punchy game like this really needs to deliver on such interesting lore, so hopefully they’ll do it justice.

Deeper character dynamics

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope | Supermassive Games

It’s already clear that Little Hope has a more diverse cast, at least age wise, than Man of Medan and Until Dawn. While those first two games were focused on teens and young adults, Little Hope mixes things up with some older characters.

The game’s wiki puts John’s age at 43, while Angela is 52. The other three appear to be around their teens. So there’s an interesting mix there, and it will be interesting to see how these dynamics pan out.

Man of Medan did a good job of explaining relationship dynamics: Julia had her boyfriend Alex and brother Conrad on board, along with Alex’s brother Brad, and ship captain Fliss.

I particularly loved the fact that, early on, Julia and Alex could get engaged or not, affecting their relationship from then on.

Here’s hoping Little Hope does even more to bring John, Angela and co. to life.

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