The Devil in Me review: Supermassive tackles the true-crime obsession

The Dark Pictures anthology explores all flavors of horror, from Sumerian demons deep in the desert to ghost ships stranded at sea. The devil is in me, the newest and final entry in the anthology series’ first season promises an even more intimate adventure, delving into the true crime story of H.H. Holmes and his semi-fabricated Chicago Murder Castle. This isn’t a story of supernatural mummies or horrific time travels – it’s about five burnt-out media employees trying to survive a modern Holmes impersonator (and possibly die in the process).

As in every Dark Pictures game, The devil is in me It allows you to control a team of five characters. Players watch characters go about their media jobs in this strange new setting, interact with each other, explore areas, and solve puzzles. The highlight and bone of the game lies in the quick-time events where players help their favorite character flee from an attacker, fight off an ambush, or dodge dangerous obstacles. The devil is in me It deals with true crime — and when it focuses on that topic, it gets truly scary.

Director Charlie looks concerned, the camera close on his face, in The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me.

Photo: Supermassive Games/Bandai Namco

The devil is in me It begins with an educational program where a young couple comes to Chicago to experience the first Ferris wheel at the 1893 World’s Fair. They have the misfortune of booking the wrong hotel and come face to face with Holmes, which ends up killing them both. Supermassive portrays Holmes as a terrifying killer, with a disturbing line delivery and skeletons in his locker, but the studio subtly captures that he is also professional swindler. His crowning achievement at the end of the tutorial is not embracing a corpse or admiring a skull but stealing a woman’s wedding ring. Even the skeleton we saw in the tutorial is part grift; Holmes sold them to medical facilities for a handsome profit.

After the tutorial ends, in modern times, we hang out with director Charlie and his crew: lighting tech Jimmy, sound engineer Erin, photographer Mark, and journalist Kate. In keeping with the previous games, these characters have some interesting drama already going on. Kate and Mark are newly separated, while Erin and Jamie sense a potential connection. They all work on a reality TV show that almost runs out of money and dies in the water, but a mysterious benefactor named Granthem Du’Met offers them a chance to tour his property, which is a replica of the infamous murder hotel run by H.H. Holmes in the late 1800s. Predictably, things go horribly wrong, and Dommett imitates Holmes’ penchant for building elaborate murder traps.

Everything is great from The devil is in me Centered around a true crime angle. The obsessive isolation and Holmes Stan building animatronics of his victims and coming up with modern-day murder traps in the Holmes tradition is a genuinely chilling idea, and one that’s believable in an age when we tend to treat serial killers with equal parts disgust and respect. Netflix recently released a series of docudrama on Jeffrey Dahmer that was met with harsh criticism for failing to respect the families of the victims. It makes sense that someone would fall into a kind of hero-worship of the nation’s first urban serial killer.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me - A young woman carries a box across a dark room.  Mannequin parts hang from the ceiling, blocking the light.

Photo: Supermassive Games/Bandai Namco

Supermassive spends a lot of time focusing on the fact that Holmes asked to be buried deep under concrete, claiming that there was a demon inside of him that drove him to kill, much like inspiration drives a poet to write. It’s a great courtroom speech. But the man himself was motivated as much by financial as by murderous motives. The devil is in me Du’Met’s machinations, he suggests, are as much the result of true crime madness as Holmes’ dark doings, and it’s a fun idea to chew on.

I’m not completely smitten The devil is in me; I ran into technical issues throughout gameplay, along with some awkward puzzles and unnecessarily long platforming sequences. The new inventory system is neat (Can you get a certain item? It can appear later during a cutscene for characters to deploy) but doesn’t feel fully fleshed out. Our core cast is also a bit very Eager to hand over their phones and get into a van to their killer destination for the plot to move forward.

The devil is in me It doesn’t rank particularly high in my Dark Pictures ranking – it comes in at the lowest Ash house And the field man, which is great for various reasons. But what the game does right is take a famous true crime case and explore it in a way that feels more interesting than exploitation, even as it weaves jump scares and relationship drama. Supermassive probably managed to squeeze two or three hours out of this game and end up with a much stronger product – as long as it leaves all the Holmes-related stuff as it is, please, because that’s where it shines.

Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil Inside Me It was released on November 18 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Bandai Namco. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. you can find Additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.