The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes preview: What lies below

We got an exclusive look at the latest entry in The Dark Pictures Anthology series.


Following the success of Until Dawn, developer Supermassive Games announced The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of isolated horror stories that are heavily influenced by player choice and branching story paths. So far, two games in this series have been released - Man of Medan and Little Hope. The newest entry, House of Ashes, is set to arrive later this year. I had the opportunity to check out an early preview of what’s coming in The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes.

The cost of war

As teased in the first trailer for The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes, the game is set over in the Middle East, during the height of the Iraq War in the year 2003. A group of soldiers is sent on a mission to uncover some chemical weapons that had been picked up on a satellite. During a shootout with Iraqi soldiers, an earthquake sends forces from both sides underground.

The characters find themselves in an ancient temple that once belonged to Naram-Sin, many years ago. Unbeknownst to the characters, this temple is home to a nest of bloodthirsty creatures. Players will have to fight enemies from above and below in order to make it out alive.

Victims of battle

Those that have played Until Dawn or games in The Dark Pictures series know that the characters are at the heart of the experience. In House of Ashes, this philosophy stays the same. High School Musical alum and Scary Movie 5 actress Ashley Tisdale stars as the lead character, Rachel King who is a CIA officer that was sent over to Iraq with a team of other soldiers.

The other playable characters in House of Ashes include Marines Jason Kolchek and Nick Kay. Rachel’s husband Colonel Eric King will also be featured prominently in the game’s story. The fifth and final playable character in The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is Salim Othman, an Iraqi officer that was sent underground by the same earthquake that trapped the American soldiers.

Players will constantly be faced with decisions in regards to player dialogue and actions. These choices will have a profound impact on the story. In some cases, it can even lead to the permanent death of a character. The developers state that House of Ashes will feature multiple endings, just like its predecessors. This will once again emphasize the replayability that’s become a staple of the series.

The Descent

The developers at Supermassive explained to me that House of Ashes is heavily inspired by some of their favorite films. Aliens, Predator, and The Descent are all movies that inspired the experience that players will have in the latest offerings from The Dark Pictures Anthology. The similarities to The Descent are easiest to identify, with the main cast of characters all being trapped underground, hunted by bloodthirsty creatures. It’s also evident in the claustrophobic spaces that our characters will find themselves in as they look to escape.

The monsters in House of Ashes were hand-animated, giving them a uniquely horrifying design. The developers used motion capture to animate them, making their animalistic movements all the more realistic.

The animation and motion capture isn’t the only technical advancement present in House of Ashes. Fans will be excited to learn that Supermassive has ditched the fixed camera, allowing full 360 control of the camera. Players can also use the in-game flashlight while exploring to get a closer look at what awaits in the darkness.

Quick-time events will once again return in The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes. However, the developers are now instituting a difficulty modifier, which will either decrease or increase the time in which players have to react to them. This is in response to community feedback saying that quick-time events were either too easy or too difficult.

The saga continues

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes is shaping up to be the most ambitious entry in the series yet, from both a technical and mechanical point of view. Improvements to the camera will promote exploration, while the creepy creature designs and ominous settings will ensure that fans get the scares that they’re coming for. 

This preview is based on a presentation given by the developers. The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes releases later this year for Xbox, PlayStation (with enhanced versions on the PS5 and Series X/S), and PC.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 27, 2021 9:30 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes preview: What lies below

    • reply
      May 27, 2021 9:02 AM

      The Dark Pictures house of ashes,
      Some live stream starting now

      • reply
        May 27, 2021 9:09 AM

        Yaaayyy Pazuzu is in this game! ❤️❤️❤️

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        May 27, 2021 9:12 AM

        Fixed camera is out. Fully player controlled camera.

        Enhanced for next-gen looks amazing.

        • reply
          May 27, 2021 9:16 AM

          This live gameplay is ridiculous. Supermassive is killing it. You thought RE8 looked good? This is as close to photorealistic I have seen yet.

      • reply
        May 27, 2021 9:19 AM

        This title always makes me think of that planned monster movie series that started with the Mummy or some shit.

        • reply
          May 27, 2021 9:26 AM

          The guy who is the lead writer on them has written/directed some cult classic horror movies, like Wendigo and Habit. Those are fun watches!

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            May 27, 2021 9:32 AM

            ^^^this guy wrote Until Dawn, Hidden Agenda and Man of Medan, but I guess he didn’t write Little Hope, which is written by another cult horror dude who wrote Black Death, which is pretty good:

            No info on House of Ashes writer

    • reply
      May 27, 2021 12:57 PM

      Gonna bump this for Milleh, redshak, dognose, CrustaR, kallanta and bill crystals (although I know you want to go dark). Also gonna bump for Pazuzu. ❤️❤️❤️

      • reply
        May 27, 2021 12:59 PM

        I’m excited!

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        May 27, 2021 1:11 PM

        Thank you, this looks very promising

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          May 27, 2021 4:23 PM

          Looks like the best one so far, for my tastes!

          Did you know Supermassive also has a project in the works that’s a Sony Exclusive? They announced its existence back in Nov’18 but it hasn’t been revealed yet.

    • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
      May 27, 2021 2:14 PM

      How are the earlier two segments?

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        May 27, 2021 2:45 PM

        Not as fun as Until Dawn!

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        May 27, 2021 4:20 PM

        I still haven’t played Little Hope, but Man of Medan has some aspects that I found much stronger than Until Dawn. I think the shorter length really compliments the genre and the branching is extremely deep- it was fun comparing my play through with my friends’ which were all very different.

        They’re definitely all great games if you like to be entertained!

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