I wanted to start the review mentioning the first instalment of The Dark Pictures Anthology, but for the life of me, I could not remember its title. Now after looking it up, I know that it is Man of Medan, but after a brief Google search (other search engines are available), I’ve realised that up to this point, the anthology in question has been rather forgettable. And what has created this colossal blank within my mind, is the fact that Man of Medan, just like Little Hope, refers to smoke and mirrors, rather than true supernatural, or even grounded horror.

This could be considered a SPOILER, if you haven’t played either, or both, Man of Medan and Little Hope. But just like the original, the recently released second entry in the anthology, while teasing you throughout with horror, signs itself off with the classic, if somewhat cliché – and it was all a dream. Sure, within Man of Medan it wasn’t a dream, but a hallucinogenic bioweapon, but little hope gets much closer to the dream status, as all the events of this small-town thriller are down to the protagonist’s mental illness.

Little Hope, unlike Man of Medan, opens up with a bang. As within mere minutes from starting the story, you are faced with an entire family getting burned to a crisp, impaled, or crushed to death. For this, the second instalment of the running anthology has to be commended, because Man of Medan dragged, with meaningless exposition, pro-longed conversations, and choices which in the end, mattered very little. On the other hand, Little Hope presents you with all the information which you will need on your journey to save the protagonists’ lives, or rather regain mental clarity, within a well-structured, and immensely concise segment which respects your time.

On one hand, Little Hope does its best to fit as much content into as little screen time as possible, showing that it will not drag you on wild goose chases, or bait you with red herrings – showing you the player the respect you deserve. But on the other, Little Hope also crams a metric ton of quick time events, dialogue choices, and gameplay decisions, which matter very little – if anything at all. The lack of value of the aforementioned, stems from the fact that 99% of those mean next to nothing, as all the major life or death decisions play out in the final hour of the game. But some could argue that all the choices in question mean nothing, as in truth there is not a single life at stake, because all the additional characters are just a figment of the protagonist’s mind and have really died decades ago.

The main protagonist, or rather the only real protagonist, can be seen as a narrator of the grander tale. But once you’ll reach the epilogue, you’ll come to realise that he is unreliable, and that his memories might have been obfuscated on purpose to hide the truth, or by his ever-deteriorating mental condition, in order to stop him from falling further into the void. This makes you question the opening of the game, as initially it is portrayed that another character was responsible for the tragic house fire. But by the time the final credits roll, you may come to a conclusion, that the protagonist might have purposely altered the truth, in order to avoid blaming himself for the death of his surrogate family.

If the above deduction is correct, then this would infer that the main protagonist was responsible for deaths, which have caused him to fall into a spiral of imaginary despair. However, if the opposite is true, and his recollections and memories are to be believed, then it is more than likely that he is not going insane, and that there is something supernatural at play. This plants a seed of doubt in a player’s mind, and makes him/her wonder whether he is truly going insane, or if there is something dark, akin to the wailing call of the Silent Hill, pulling him ever closer to face the past.

The overall story, the one which drives you through the five hour or so ordeal, is rather banal. It is nothing you haven’t seen before, the clichés come at you thick and fast. And for that Little Hope could not possibly be praised, or even commended. However, the story which one creates within his/her mind prior, during, and past the gameplay, is what deserves real praise. Little Hope is constantly making you double guess, question, and doubt yourself on each and every step of the way. Once you reach the finale, it brings all your deductions to a grinding halt, and makes you completely reconsider all your knowledge, and beliefs regarding the narrative.

As much as Little Hope is a video game, it is also a conversation piece and because of that, it is best played with a friend. This time round, you are in for a treat as both the offline and online components work much more seamlessly, than they did within Man of Medan. While playing in co-op, the connection no longer breaks randomly, the title doesn’t crash, soft, or hard lock at random anymore – and best of all, the micro stutters, which plagued the original are gone – even when playing on the glorious 5mb/s Hampshire bandwidth.

Overall, Little Hope is a much more technically stable experience, than last year’s Man of Medan. The framerate is stable, there is no screen tearing or artifacting, and the title doesn’t get stuck on quick time event prompts like Man of Medan originally did. On top of that, Little Hope is also a much better-looking game, as from basic presentation, through animations, all the way down to the special effects, Little Hope is simply superior to Man of Medan. It may not be on the same level of polish as the now cult classic Until Dawn, it is still an exceptional title, considering the first entry in the anthology, and the limited development time which the studio had.

At the end of the day, Little Hope is a massive step up from the forgettable Man of Medan, as it improves upon its predecessor in each and every single department. From performance, through gameplay, all the way up to the presentation, Little Hope is simply better. But despite all of the efforts of Supermassive Games, it still feels like a little brother to 2015’s Until Dawn. However, this does not change the fact that Little Hope is a great horror title, which manages to turn some of the tried and true tropes on their heads, and for that alone it is more than worth its asking price, and most importantly of all – your spare time.

You can also read our review of Man of Medan here.