Look, it’s certainly very possible to spend an enjoyable evening playing Little Hope. But you have to calibrate your expectations towards B-movie, janky schlock-fest. If you go in wanting to have a spooky time that actually freaks your nut, I fear you’ll be disappointed.
Likewise, as you listen to the stories of the locals (all voice-acted very well, to various levels of eccentricity) and gradually uncover the history of Shelmerston, you realise how much everyone who lives there really loves the place. The love is deep in their very bones, and it makes you love it too. For the six to eight hours it took me to reach the end credits, it even fooled me into thinking I liked my own hometown, which is not true. I hate where I’m from. That’s okay though, because I choose to be from Shelmerston now.
I’m just far less interested in “two dudes who are creative musical forces have a falling out and weirdly obsess over each other for years” than I am seeing the semi-incestuous manoeuvrings of guitarists between different bands in one big music scene, as in Family. I feel like the relationship in Rivals is one that I have seen versions of a lot already, and one that gets talked about loads in real life all the time. The perpetual cycle of John and Paul.
I think the rules are still a bit too opaque for my liking. But they are, typically for Inkle, very elegant, and trust them to be the developers to weave them in with stories of knights and chivalry in such a neat way. Inkle are still better at story than strategy, though. I’ll beat Mordred one day. I just suspect it will take me a long while, is the only thing.
It’s less dramatic than some of Dontnod’s other outings (and probably not for those with short attention spans given the pacing), but Tell Me Why remains a good entry in their the library of stories about families and sad magic – and it’s probably the most hopeful one yet.