Tom Heaton, Game Director of The Devil in Me, takes us behind the scenes of its production.
On November 20, horror game fans waited for the release of The Devil in Methe final entry in the anthology The Dark Pictures. Developed by Supermassive Games, the saga marks the end of its first season with this fourth and final game, different from its predecessors in many ways. For the occasion, we were able to meet Tom Heaton, the game director, who explained to us in more detail the creation of The Devil in Me.
In this title, you play a gang of young journalists making a documentary about the famous serial killer HH Holmes. The latter built a murderous hotel in the heart of Chicago in which the businessman had fun torturing and massacring his victims. In The Devil in Methe youngsters deal with a modern reproduction of the “Castle of Murders” that proves to be just as deadly as the original.
Those who have been able to play the title already know that one of its main assets is its intelligent level design, but also and above all its poignant narration. As with any Supermassive Games game, plot is at the heart of the game and Tom Heaton says this was one of the biggest challenges in development:
“The biggest challenge when making one of these games is to tell a very compelling story, with really interesting characters, that can also branch out and go in different directions and give everyone something unique. It’s always very difficult […] but also very rewarding, I would say.”
New immersive mechanics
The strength of The Devil in Me also lies in its state-of-the-art gameplay that allows players to fully immerse themselves in the story concocted by the scriptwriters. Tom Heaton explains:
“Moving from one game to another, we have always sought to offer the player something new and very different from what came before. We looked at how our exploration works, how we walk around the world and interact with things, and we revamped it to make it much more interactive for the player. They can now jump and climb, squeeze into spaces they can crawl under, swing on beams, run, etc. So they have a lot more autonomy and that allows the world to be filled with secrets.”
Throughout the adventure, you alternate between 5 different characters and have to make choices that will greatly impact their destiny. Thinking is therefore essential, but so is speed when you sometimes have to hide or save one of your teammates in extremis. The game director says:
“Another big change is the introduction of an inventory system, which allows us to have five playable characters. They are all members of a film crew and they all have tools that are related to their role in the crew. Mark has a camera and some kind of tripod, while Kate, who is a journalist, has a pencil. Erin has a directional microphone, so you can listen through walls. Characters can lose these tools, sometimes upgrade them, sometimes break them, and sometimes find new tools that will be useful to them.”
Will you be less afraid together?
Whether you’re aficionados of the genre or competitive sissies (we plead guilty), The Devil in Me thought of you by allowing you to share your experience with another player. Online or locally, playing with others allows you to have support when making decisions, or to reduce the feeling of fear inherent in any horror game.
“Sometimes you’re in the same room with another person and you can chat with them and explore together. But sometimes you’re in completely different parts of the game, and you don’t know what’s happening to the other person because they have access to a different part that wasn’t mapped out for you. When you get together, you can exchange information about what happened or you can choose not to.”
In any case, we advise you to stay until the end, since The Devil in Me promises you a conclusion with great fanfare. No wonder for an episode that marks the end of a season. Tom Heaton also explains: ”
“I think we did a great job with the pacing, the third act, especially when the game gets to its climax. He keeps raising the tension again and again. And I think people are going to really appreciate that.”