Little Hope's opening is a brilliant version of the series in microcosm
With a couple of big story surprises...
This article contains spoilers for Little Hope's short prologue. For a more general overview of how the game begins, our Little Hope preview from April is spoiler-free.
To date, Supermassive Games has shown only snippets of Little Hope's opening, which sets up the fact this chapter of its Dark Pictures anthology series will mix sections set in the present day with moments from the Salem witch trial era of the late 1600s. But the studio has also been teasing a couple of other story secrets which set up the wider mystery of the game. After going hands-on with the demo in a recent remote hands-on, we'll talk about both of these surprises below.
Little Hope's action begins with a coach crash in the present day - the driver distracted by a sudden commotion in the back of the vehicle and then surprised by the appearance of a young girl in the middle of the road. Cut to black, and a shift in time to... the 1970s.
This third time period is the setting for the game's opening prologue, a section which feels both a tutorial for what is to come and a miniature Supermassive Games horror story all of its own. Characters are quickly established, tension rises - and then the deaths begin.
There's a lot to pick apart in this opening 20-minute slice, which introduces all of the game's main cast in alternate roles. Bandersnatch and Maze Runner star Will Poulter plays the younger son in a family being fractured by tensions of the day. His dad is an alcoholic, driven to despair by the prospect of losing his job. His brother is an arsehole, who disapproves of his older sister Tanya's new Black boyfriend. Finally, his troubled kid sister Megan is being neglected - and instead seems to be in communion with the devil. Yeah.
Without spoiling the ending of this section completely, it's fair to say things go downhill fast as Megan takes revenge on her family for their constant fighting. As ever, you have some choices as to how to proceed - who to save in certain situations - as well as a few collectables to find which shed further light on what's going on - Megan's failing report card, for example, or when playing in Curator's Cut mode as Tanya, her diary with dreams of escaping Little Hope with her boyfriend some day.
Regardless, the gut punch of seeing this section suddenly end lands particularly effectively with the further reveal that the characters these actors play seem to exist in multiple periods. In the present day, the passengers of the coach crash are shown on screen for the first time and... it's Will Poulter again. Supermassive has cut around this to some extent in its marketing so far, but it is now clear Little Hope's troupe of players are taking on at least three versions of themselves in the final game.
Little Hope's overall mystery of how these characters are being repeated through time now feels even more intriguing in light of its prologue, which also hints at wider themes of distrust and prejudice there's plenty of scope to explore within its witch trial-era setting. It's perhaps notable that just before Megan appears to the coach driver in the present day, the occupants of the bus began to fight amongst themselves - just as the family in the 1970s did too. Are the spirits of those wrongfully killed in the 1600s seeking out hatred in the present day, or causing it?
We have a little longer than expected to wait and find out. After a recent delay, Little Hope will now arrive on 30th October.