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The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes review – caught between a video game and a movie

House of Ashes, the third game in Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology, is the best game the studio has released since PS4 exclusive Until Dawn. The Sony-published game just hit all the right notes and was a huge surprise on its release. House of Ashes suggests the studio still has what it takes, but for whatever reasons it’s still not quite back to that level that enabled them to create a horror video game classic.

For me, House of Ashes’ biggest problem is tied to what it seemingly wants to be: a movie and a video game. This is a video game, but it’s one of the least interactive I’ve played in a long time. It feels a lot like a 3D point and click adventure, with the occasional QTE thrown in or a cursor you need to move to aim at an enemy. This is a game anyone could play, which is something you can rarely say, but because of this I found it rather outstays its admittedly already brief runtime.

As a user-friendly game, and one that you’re encouraged to play with friends, the horror tale told here is too long. Supermassive was no doubt keen to deliver a campaign of reasonable length, but as a video game the basic mechanics simply aren’t interesting for that length of game. Cut the whole thing down to a snappy two hours, trimming off scenes of reflection, and this might just have been a brilliant interactive horror movie.

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