Supermassive Games and Bandai Namco’s The Dark Pictures Anthology is a unique approach to horror games, focusing on a series of individual tales themed around urban legends, ancient myths, and cultural superstitions. As a concept it’s pretty cool, since it approaches each entry like a big-budget short film. The last outing, Man of Medan, was somewhat disappointing when you discovered what was really going on, but the setup was interesting. The new entry, Little Hope, is focused on something a little more grounded, a two-sided tale themed around the Salem Witch Trials, and a group of people in modern times who unearth the deadly truth.
The story takes place in two parts, much like Man of Medan. The first is set in the fictional town of Little Hope, Massachusetts, 1692, where accusations of witchcraft are spread through the town, rendering the church to heel the pleas and bring in a ruthless religious bounty hunter of sorts called a Witchfinder.
The trailer doesn’t really delineate who was doing the accusing, but there were nearly three dozen common folk accusing their fellow neighbors of witchcraft back during the late 17th century, 25 of whom died in result of the trials, one of whom was a reportedly devout minister named George Burroughs; thus proving that any and everyone was susceptible to misguided and oftentimes malignant finger-pointing.
The trailer focuses mostly on the Witchfinder, and his attempts to weed out witches in the village.
Not all is at it appears, though, as the Witchfinder is actually portrayed more as villain than judiciary.
There’s hints that the Witchfinder himself may even be more aligned to the dark side than good. Nevertheless, he appears to target a young girl who may or may not be an actual witch, and when the group of modern day purveyors begin to investigate Little Hope for whatever reason, the spirit of the little girl appears to haunt and kill some of them… or at least, they will be killed if the player doesn’t make the right choices.
I also noticed that one of the chicks from the modern times looks a heck of a lot like Anita Sarkeesian.
Anyway, much like Man of Medan, Supermassive sets up the trailer with a lot of intrigue and uncertainty. While the story from 1692 in Little Hope focuses on an accused girl, in reality it was both men and women being accused and accusing one another of witchcraft, including a handful of women targeting one another, sometimes out of jealousy and spite.
There was even a fictionalized play that later became a movie based on that aforementioned jealousy called The Crucible, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. It has to be one the most anxiety-inducing and emotionally infuriating films you’ll ever sit through. It will also sear itself into your soul, giving you a lot to think about regarding the way accusations, rumors, and corrupt judicial systems work.
I doubt Little Hope will delve into the nitty-gritty of fragile states of fear and paranoia that sometimes drive the human condition — which was also the chief cause of perturbation behind the Witch Trials — but I imagine they’re likely going to focus on the more horror-themed elements surrounding the urban legend of said events.