Dark Pictures: Choice versus consequence

Photo: Until Dawn.. Image Courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America, LLC, Supermassive Games
Photo: Until Dawn.. Image Courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America, LLC, Supermassive Games /

When you hear a title like Dark Pictures, you don’t think of video games. You probably think of a budget horror movie. But in this case, you would be wrong. The Dark Pictures Anthology is a handful of video games that bring to light the consequences of your actions while bringing an immersive world to life. If you loved Until Dawn, then you’ll love this steadily-growing anthology.

While there are only two games currently, a third is slated for later this year. Man of Medan was the first of the series, and it really drove home what the developers were trying to convey.

They were essentially making an interactive horror movie. All of your choices matter. One slip-up and you, or an ally could end up in permanent trouble. Your choices are set in stone, similar to Until Dawn. You can’t backtrack unless you restart the game. Though, if you were to restart with these two games, you would get a new outcome. Dozens of endings could await you dependent on just one single choice.

Most games with the option of choice are usually an illusion such as the telltale video games. In those, your choices don’t truly matter because the ending will be the same regardless. You may have a different surviving team but in the end, you’ll end up in the same position. With these games, if you make a mistake, the ending could change. Your own character can die at any given time in various different ways. And the games themselves? They’re psychological thrillers with a mixture of horror thrown in.

A similar game, Until Dawn.

Dark Pictures
Photo: Until Dawn.. Image Courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America, LLC, Supermassive Games /

You’ll be pressing pause multiple times to make sure you are making the right choice and even then, you may still make the wrong one. I, myself had made a choice in one and ended up ruining a perfect ending because of it. Because I did not think of the consequences. I assumed everything was clear cut and it wasn’t. In Dark Pictures: Man Of Medan, you play multiple characters. A group of friends stuck on a ghost ship essentially. Brought there by force thanks to a couple of enemies. And once the game starts, you’re thrown into a world of wonder and fear.

Every choice matters. If you don’t pick up a certain item. If you aren’t quiet enough. If you are not still enough. If you were not quick enough with the QTE–The ending could change. You could be the sole survivor. You could have a full group. Or everyone could die. It’s the consequence of choice. And it really boils down to what kind of a person you are.

An impromptu session happens every now and then through the game to see your progress, and also to give you some advice. Test your mettle as you navigate through the hard and impossible choices of the game. Even the easiest decisions could be the hardest ones.

At that moment, you probably wouldn’t think that leaving behind a flashlight would matter, but it could be lethal. In Man of Medan, every choice you ever made in the game is being put through a series of calculations, figuring out what your ending could be. Despite being under the guise that you’ve made good decisions,  you won’t know until the last possible second what your ending is.

Choose wisely.

The second game in the series is called Little Hope. At first, it seems like a time-traveling reincarnated mess of a story. But until you dive in and read between the lines, you won’t know what the story truly is telling you. I fell into the rabbit hole of choice. I thought I was making the right choices but even though it seems I did at first, I didn’t. The ending proved that.

You really should play these games without reading spoilers or watching gameplay because going into these with a fresh set of eyes is the best way to play them. It really makes you think about everything you said in the games, everything you did, and everything you could have done if you had made a different choice. Again, it’s not clear-cut. It’s not linear as you may think. But it’s definitely worth the buy.

The third of the series (released later this year), House of Ashes is a story surrounding a military group searching for chemical weapons. But of course, it isn’t always that easy in the Dark Pictures Anthology. Something deadlier is afoot and if I enticed you enough with the above, I do recommend playing this one as well when it comes out. I will.

Spoiler? Probably not. But it’s definitely worth the ride.