Dark Pictures: House of Ashes PS5 Review

By Published On: October 27, 2021Categories: Gaming, Reviews

The Dark Pictures Anthology has been an ongoing series that officially started after Until Dawn. While Until Dawn was a massive success, it feels that the series has not exactly been as great with storytelling. While the gameplay has remained the same and if anything improved by adding features like movie night and online coop, the delivery of the tales feels rushed at times and poorly executed. However, with the new release of House of Ashes, it feels like a new fire has lit underneath the anthology and brought the excitement back to life. Dark Pictures: House of Ashes is an exciting adventure that brings back the sheer terror and anxiety that we all experienced with Until Dawn. The game like the previous entries is available on Xbox, Playstation, and PC for only $29.99.

Image Credit: Shinobi

Sempre Fi To the End

House of Ashes takes an interesting new turn in regards to the plot. Instead of being on home turf and finding your characters somewhere they least expect to be, the tale follows soldiers in Iraq of all places. In the year of 2231 BC there was an ancient war between the Akkadians and the Gutian people. Blood sacrifices were a common practice with the Akkadian King who also happened to be battling a plague. Fast Forward to 2003, and the focus shifts to a group of soldiers in the middle of the Iraq War. Colonel Eric King joins a group of Marines led by Lt. Kolchek and Seargent Kay and briefs them on a mission to raid storage that supposedly contains weapons of mass destruction. There is also a focus on an Iraqui Soldier known as Salim, who is forced to return to a war that is already lost and intercept the group of soldiers. Little do they know they end up fighting over what seems to be a shepherd’s hut, but ends up being over the ruins of the Akkadian Temple. While they originally are trying to escape and fight the Iraqui Soldiers, they end up finding a more sinister enemy that seems to be vampiric creatures.

While every story had a great premise, this entry felt as if it delivered a full course meal rather than just an appetizer. The previous 2 stories felt rushed and ended up uncovering human hallucinations rather than monsters. The main characters usually felt young and immature, as well as even more selfish. I never expected the next entry to follow military personnel that works with an enemy just to survive an ancient evil that proved to be real. The story gave a sense of unity and bravery and showed the struggle of following orders and working with a man who originally was an enemy to them.

The Same Gameplay with Added Anxiety

Calling this temple unnerving does not begin to do the environment justice. Supermassive worked wonders in making the temple and caves of this underground realm induce anxiety in the players. I found myself nervous falling underground and trying to find my way back up. Unfortunately, following this stressful adventure leaves you leading your characters deeper and deeper. I was often reminded of the Descent as I squeezed between collapsed rocks and tunnels, avoiding blood-thirsty creatures and Iraq soldiers that were not keen on helping at first. While the gameplay remained the same with QTEs and Dialogue choices, no other game gave such a stressful feeling of needing to survive. The transition made it even more enjoyable between starting at a normal collapsed Temple Enterance and descending into dark tunnels, the bloody and corpse-filled feeding grounds of the vampiric monsters, and even the nest that seemed to give off Alien vibes.

Image Credit: Shinobi

Great Character Development, but Some Poor Character Personality

House of Ashes would have been perfect if it weren’t for the awkward character choices. Some of the characters started off strong and were great throughout the game, while others took a while or just got plain worse. If anything my least favorite character ended up becoming my favorite towards the end. While based on military and CIA personnel can seem awkward to create given that distinct personality that comes with the territory, some of the traits just made them hard to connect with. Characters like Salim and Eric were instantly likable and had strong defining characteristics that set them apart from the rest. Kolchek felt a bit awkward at first given his strong hatred for the Iraqi people and just plain awkward humor, but ends up one of the best characters depending on choices made. The remaining characters despite choices were just plain awkward and boring at times. I will say that every character played well to their roles given and dialogue choices.

The Best Since Until Dawn

Despite the awkward character interactions and development, House of Ashes is the best in the Anthology and the best since the game that started it all. The game gave a feeling of confidence from the developers and felt that it flowed harmoniously to the end. There was no feeling of the story being rushed, and so much content to discover to find the truth. The ending of the game also gave a sense of unknowing what could be out there rather than making it feel like it’s all in our heads. This entry is worth picking up and playing through and shows that there is no roadblock in what Supermassive and Bandai are trying to do.

DVS Score: 7.5/10

About the Author: DVS Gaming