Bandai Namco and development team Supermassive Games return with the third episode of The Dark Pictures Anthology, titled House of Ashes. Like the previous episodes, this episode tells us a whole new story with its own cast of characters, and it’s time to introduce them to your attention through this review.
The story takes us to Iraq and puts us in the role of a group of American army soldiers who are tasked with the urgent mission of controlling a weapons depot, but it turns out that their goal was not the right one. After the earthquake, the soldiers fall go underground with a group of Iraqi army soldiers and find themselves in a strange temple depicting the Sumerian civilization. But they are not the only ones in this dimension, because it is full of fearsome and ferocious monsters, and here the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend! The story in this version is, in our opinion, the best of the released episodes as it provided answers to some questions while some other details remained unclear due to some unexpected events.
Flaws and Cast
The story is not without some flaws that we encountered in previous versions. There is a lot of superficial dialogue that could have been done without, and the team deliberately makes some characters make illogical and in many cases very stupid decisions to create a dramatic situation and nothing more, which we had enough of in previous versions. In this version it appears in detail. One of the things we liked about this episode is the presentation of a series of short shots that you will watch as you collect documents and examine the evidence provided by the environment. These recordings give an excellent idea of the location where the events take place and encourage searching… These documents are used to discover further details. Unlike the cast of previous episodes, we found the cast of this version to be interesting, and despite being the same crew that military films present with their traditional makeup, there is enough depth to distinguish each character from the others.
Graphics and Audio
At the graphic level, the game offers a similar graphic level to the two previous versions, but with a better refinement of the character designs, whose quality varied between scenes in the last version but is excellent in this version, and the environmental designs are like As usual, precise and beautiful. The characters’ facial features and the movement of the faces appear slightly better, but still seem static. It requires a lot of work, on the audio level, since the game presents music that increases the tension and sometimes enthusiasm in scenes full of suspense, which is done well in various episodes.
Voice Acting and Controls
We need to spend a few lines on the voice acting. One of the main characters you will control is an Iraqi army character, and there are many scenes in the game where this character and other characters speak in Arabic, but the voice acting is in the Egyptian dialect, not Iraqi! We don’t know how such a serious mistake was made and how it went unnoticed by the development team. There are also a number of texts that appear to have been translated verbatim from the English language, resulting in some strange texts.
The control system receives some changes in this version. The camera can now move freely, unlike the fixed camera in previous versions. This is a good decision and allows you to see all aspects of the environment you are passing through and helps you recognize evidence and documents better. All characters now have a light source such as a flashlight that can be activated. When moving in dark areas, one of the excellent changes in this version is the change in the type of QTE scenes you had to try to survive in previous versions, but this version turns many of these issues into a moral dilemma or a decision , risking a personal life to save another character, and there were unexpected outcomes to these scenes, something that made us delve deeper into the experience, thinking carefully about whether pressing the corresponding button was the right choice or not.
Difficulty Levels and Multiplayer
The final difference we will mention in this review is that the game offers three difficulty levels: easy, medium and hard, but with special game names. This is an excellent decision and affects the speed of the QTE scenes and nothing more, but It is an excellent decision. If you’re not a fan of these scenes but are interested in giving House of Ashes a try, there’s the easy option. It gives you more than enough time to press the appropriate button or make the decision that suits you in some scenes.
In addition to the single player phase, the game features the same multiplayer phases as previous episodes. You have the Movie Night mode, where each of the five characters is chosen and who plays with them, so you give them the controller to the companion who chose that character when it’s their turn, and there’s the Shared Story phase you go through. Have an experience with another player over the network in which you make your own decisions in some scenes while the other player goes through parallel scenes to make their decisions.
We completed the experiment in 5 hours on the first attempt and in about 4 hours on the second attempt. We found a greater variety of possible possibilities in this episode than in the previous episode (which was frustrating). It is possible to make many similar decisions to the first experiment, but a simple change in decisions changes the course of the experiment. The events are large, and although some of the consequences are unjustified, the largest percentage are directly related to your decisions. House of Ashes is not ideal and still suffers from some of the problems that the previous episodes have suffered from, but it is considered the best of this series of episodes so far and this time it has managed to deliver an exciting story with decisions that require careful thought and some successful modifications to enable the game system.
- The story in House of Ashes is considered the best among the released episodes, providing answers to some questions while leaving some details unclear for unexpected events.
- The presentation of short shots as you collect documents and examine evidence provides an excellent idea of the location and encourages exploration.
- The cast of characters in this episode is interesting and each character has enough depth to distinguish them from one another.
- The graphics are similar to previous versions but with better refinement in character designs and precise and beautiful environmental designs.
- The music in the game effectively increases tension and adds to scenes full of suspense.
- The control system allows for free camera movement, better visibility of the environment, and recognition of evidence and documents.
- The QTE scenes in this version offer moral dilemmas and decisions, adding depth to the gameplay and making players think carefully about their choices.
- The game offers three difficulty levels, catering to players of different skill levels and preferences.
- The multiplayer modes, Movie Night and Shared Story, provide additional gameplay options and cooperative experiences.
- House of Ashes offers a greater variety of possible outcomes and decisions compared to previous episodes.
- There is a lot of superficial dialogue that could have been omitted, and some characters make illogical and stupid decisions solely for the sake of creating drama.
- Some flaws from previous episodes, such as static facial features and occasional translation errors, are still present in House of Ashes.
- There are inconsistencies in voice acting, with an Iraqi character speaking in the Egyptian dialect, and some strange texts that seem to be direct translations from English.
- While the game has made improvements to the QTE scenes, some consequences of decisions may feel unjustified.
FAQ: The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes PC Game
Q: What is the storyline of House of Ashes?
A: House of Ashes takes place in Iraq and follows a group of American army soldiers who find themselves trapped in an underground temple after an earthquake. They must navigate the temple while facing fearsome monsters and unexpected events.
Q: How is the gameplay different from previous episodes?
A: House of Ashes introduces a free-moving camera system, allowing players to explore the environment more fully. It also incorporates moral dilemmas and decision-making, adding a new layer of gameplay to the series.
Q: Are there multiple difficulty levels in the game?
A: Yes, House of Ashes offers three difficulty levels: easy, medium, and hard. These levels affect the speed of Quick Time Events (QTEs) and provide options for players who may not enjoy these scenes.
Q: Can I play House of Ashes with friends?
A: Yes, House of Ashes features multiplayer modes similar to previous episodes. The Movie Night mode allows players to take turns controlling different characters, while the Shared Story mode enables online co-op gameplay with parallel decision-making.
Q: How long does it take to complete the game?
A: On average, it takes around 5 hours to complete House of Ashes on the first attempt. However, the game offers a variety of possible outcomes based on player decisions, allowing for replayability and different experiences.