The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me director shares how Supermassive is keeping things fresh

Ahead of The Devil in Me release date announcement, ourselves and members of the SEA gaming press got to interview director Tom Heaton.

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The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me is the fourth entry in Supermassive Games’ horror series, and it is the last of the “first season” following Man of Medan, Little Hope, and House of Ashes.

Ahead of its showcase and release date announcement, publisher Bandai Namco invited members of the SEA gaming press into an interview with game director Tom Heaton of Supermassive Games.

In the interview, Heaton shared new insight into the upcoming Dark Pictures installment, including what the team has done to keep things fresh and exciting while keeping the identity of the series intact.

According to Heaton, there are several key things that make The Devil in Me a unique experience compared with the three preceding installments. The first is the game’s expanded exploration.

“The idea of that is to make exploration more engaging to enhance the experience for the player,” said Heaton. “To give the player agency and the ability to explore their interesting and detailed environments, and we really think it adds a lot to that experience.”

As detailed during the preview, the game lets players explore levels in more ways, giving it an increased sense of exploration — perfect for the game’s horror hotel setting.

Other key feature of the game are the addition of an inventory and more complex puzzles which Heaton explains in detail:

“We’ve added an inventory so that each of the characters has a number of tools and items that they can use to help them survive the ordeal that they find themselves in. And finally, this game features puzzles. We’ve always had little puzzles in the game, but we’ve made it quite a big feature this time round. You know those fuse box type puzzles, number code type, puzzles, mazes — escape room type puzzles. It’s all part of the murder hotel idea.”

The puzzles promise to be an interesting gameplay addition as they’re not just there to give players something to do. They’re included as puzzles form a core part of the game’s concept. Though Heaton did promise that these puzzles will still be accessible to most players.

Speaking of the concept, The Devil in Me is another different horror take compared with the previous games. As mentioned in the preview, this game is a mix of Saw, Halloween, and other slasher flicks mixed in with some The Shining.

“Every single entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology, would tackle a new genre or genres. Sometimes we blend genres together,” explained Heaton. “And one of the reasons we wanted to do that is because it actually makes it easier to keep things fresh. It means that we are looking at a different set of influences and a different set of story beats and things that normally occur in those genres. So, switching genres helps a lot for that. It’s all about finding the things that are unique to those genres, finding the things that players would expect to find in those genres, and then incorporating them into our narrative.”

It’s interesting how Heaton noted that the change in horror genre is the main way in which the team at Supermassive Games is keeping things fresh with each installment (aside from gameplay improvements of course). Though with the change in genres come a set of challenges.

Heaton describes the challenges as:

“Thinking of unique stories and unique characters is always a challenge. It takes a long time; our pre-production is long and that’s so that we can get the story really good before we do any further work on it. We lock everything down, we lock all the branching down, and we produce a playable version of the game in storyboard form. Just so that we can be sure we’ve got something that’s really good. [And we make sure it] isn’t treading on the toes of any of the other games in the series or all the games that are coming up as well. And we usually test it at that phase, just to check that it’s still fresh and to check that it still hangs together, so it’s definitely a challenge, but we got ways of dealing with it.”

Based on the recent preview and Heaton’s insight into its development, the next installment of The Dark Pictures Anthology promises to be the biggest, and possibly the best yet. And we won’t have to wait too long until we find out if the game does deliver on its promise.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is set to release on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on November 18, 2022.