The Devil in Me
The Devil in Me has a lot of great accessibility options included and many that are new to the series. However, QTEs in the game can be pretty challenging and there's no captions available for deaf players.
- Straightforward inventory system
- No more tank controls
- Remapping available for keyboard and mouse
- Subtitle sizes can be customized
- OpenDyslexic font is available
- Captions not present in the game
- Unavoidable QTEs with little support
- Glitches sometimes interfere with gameplay
Solve the mystery of the infamous H.H. Holmes killer alongside five documentary filmmakers and escape his house of horrors before it’s too late! The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me is Supermassive Games‘ latest interactive horror game in this anthology and their most recent title after The Quarry. I’m reviewing the PC version of the game, but it was released late last year on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S as well. The Devil in Me does fall short in some ways, but it still manages to bring new accessibility options to the series.
The Devil in Me is a standalone third-person horror experience where players fight for their lives, break out of crazy contraptions, and make important story decisions that affect multiple branching paths. Five main characters received a mysterious phone call inviting them to the replica castle of the notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes. Just like in Supermassive’s previous horror titles, all five characters can live or die.
Starting Up The Game
After I booted up the game, there weren’t any features presented or options available until the title screen loaded. It’s here where I could access single player mode, play locally or online with friends, look at collectibles, and go to the Settings menu.
Under Settings there are separate tabs for game controls, brightness, audio options, and accessibility. The accessibility tab has all the main accessibility for subtitles, quick time event options, and HUD customization.
Exploring the Controls
After I completed the initial creepy intro, I noticed that moving characters around felt different. The Devil in Me introduced many new traversal options, throwing out some of the “interactive movie” type qualities of previous titles. Instead of making a narrative decision to change locations, I was constantly climbing, jumping, and crouching to get to new areas.
This was the first time I’ve ever been able to run in a Supermassive game, so getting from point A to B was easier than ever before. It felt surprisingly great to run, the first time I played as Charlie. When I explored the grounds, I felt more freedom to look for optional content, since I could move quickly.
When decisions are made, the game autosaves, there are no extra lives, and no way to manually save. Also, there are sliders for mouse sensitivity and camera sensitivity. Thankfully, the developers continued their trend of implementing fully customizable controls. Every button on the keyboard and mouse can be customized for combat, quick time events, or controller support. I could invert camera controls and, interestingly, I could even invert the camera specifically during moments where characters were inspecting objects.
Something else that’s different is this game doesn’t have any fixed camera moments. That’s right, The Devil in Me doesn’t have tank controls! What I’m referencing is, a retro style control scheme that limits character movement to the direction players are facing. Early PlayStation games used this to maintain direction while the camera angle changes. The Devil in Me ditches this style for a more free-roaming camera.
I was really able to move quickly because of that, and in-between escaping traps, I could get where I needed to go much easier than their other titles. Sure, I appreciate fixed cameras for setting a mood, but it’s not needed in every game and I’m glad Supermassive excluded them this time around.
Quick Time Event Fatigue
When I encountered my first QTE, which involved hiding from the groundskeeper, I definitely failed the button prompt. While The Quarry had multiple ways to customize QTEs (like offering the option to customize timer speed, interruption speed, or let players opt out and have QTEs succeed automatically), The Devil in Me brings back difficult Quick Time Events with a vengeance.
Although the game did still have the option to turn off the timer, I didn’t see much else when it came to support. I noticed that The Devil in Me put a bigger emphasis on succeeding at QTEs. That includes brief combat, staying hidden, and keeping characters alive. The option to toggle buttons is available, but fast reflexes are still very much required. This isn’t necessarily a new thing for early titles in the series, but it’s a shame not to see other options here.
What is worse is there are multiple button mashing QTEs that require tapping a button to the rhythm of a heartbeat and there’s no accessibility for these whatsoever. These Quick Time Events involve running to a specific spot and then pressing the designated button in time with a heartbeat, until the threat has passed. I can think of at least two times that missing the heartbeat QTEs had dire consequences or even killed a main character (poor Charlie). Whenever this happened, it was always because I wasn’t physically quick enough to hit the button in time.
I can assume that what happened is the team started working on The Devil in Me’s mechanics long before The Quarry. Plus, they’re likely not even the same development teams. Still, as a company it’s hard to avoid player expectation when it comes to accessibility. It’s only a step down because they set the bar so high for themselves. Hopefully they’ll be more consistent in the future.
Nice Inventory You Got There
The Devil in Me does have a very straightforward inventory system for the first time in this series. As soon as I switched characters, I noticed different items in the inventory. All five characters can obtain unique items to help them solve puzzles, as well as collectible coins known as Obols. Erin’s microphone is used to listen for unsettling noises, and Charlie’s business card is used as a lock pick. Each important item that I collected popped up instantly in one of four inventory slots at the bottom left-hand side of the screen.
Items have a bright white glow to reveal their location, yet I didn’t notice any helpful differences when it came to how important items or optional ones were distinguished. There’s no way to examine items in the slots closely, but when they are collected bits of information about the item and how to use them briefly appear on the right-hand side of the screen. I could give items from my inventory to other characters if I needed, and sometimes I had to use more than one item at a time to solve certain puzzles.
I do wish that the inventory system could’ve worked more as a drop-down menu or tab that I could scroll through whenever I wanted. Instead, each item is activated by separate keyboard keys, so they take up more of the keyboard/mouse functions. However, this is a big step in the right direction.
Visual Nightmares and Game Glitches
While items do glow, The Devil in Me is very dark, visually speaking. There’s a brightness and contrast slider available under the display tab in settings. Colorblind players don’t have color-signifying items to worry about, when it comes to puzzles, button prompts, or collectibles.
Also, I don’t normally speak on bugs in games unless they affect the gameplay, so I feel like it’s worth mentioning the issues I encountered. About two thirds of the way through the game, I encountered a pretty big gameplay glitch when I was playing as Mark. As I was running up a flight of stairs in the game, his character abruptly fell straight through the floor and proceeded to get stuck in the space between walls. I had to restart from a previous save and this happened twice. (I did hear an update was released to address some of the bugs in late December, but I can’t confirm they’re gone.)
Subtitles and Sounds
Thankfully, most of the accessibility options for the Deaf/HoH, like in previous titles, are also here in The Devil in Me. Subtitles are available and they have a nice dark background that can be turned on in the accessibility tab. Instead of subtitle sizes, there’s now individual sliders for enlarging subtitles and customizing the subtitle background opacity.
For the first time, I could even customize the text size of important choices or even minor choices. Subtitle color can be altered in the form of character names. I could choose to have character names turned on for added clarification, and then also choose to have those names be distinguished by different colors. Turning on a dyslexia friendly font was also an option.
Sound effect, music, and dialogue levels can be individually changed and there’s a master volume as well. Captions, on the other hand, were mysteriously absent from The Devil in Me. Subtitles are consistent throughout, but there aren’t any for background dialogue or ambient noises. I don’t think that the majority of the game will be inaccessible to deaf players, however I know they will lose a lot of context when it comes to the story and scares.
The Devil in Me has a dark story with subject matter that will keep the attention of any psychological horror fan! There are a lot of great accessibility options included and many that are new to the series. Character movement is more fluid than ever before, and there’s now a comprehensive inventory system that will help guide many disabled gamers. However, QTEs in the game can be pretty challenging for those with fine-motor skill impairments and there’s no captions available for deaf players.