House of Ashes’ monsters aren’t hallucinations this time: “These things are real”

A soldier dangling on a rope in a dark underground cave

For those disappointed by the use of hallucinations to explain the presence of monsters – whether that be ghosts or demons – in the endings of previous entries in the The Dark Pictures Anthology, you’ll be glad to know that the monsters this time round are very real indeed, and pose a very real threat.

In an interview with PCGamesN, executive producer on House of Ashes Dan McDonald discusses the “negativity and perception” around the hallucination thread in Little Hope and Man of Medan with us, confirming that in House of Ashes’ underground temple location the monsters this time round are “not hallucinations – there is something down there. It’s real.”

This time they’re very real, very frightening monsters that perceive the world differently from humans. We catch a brief glimpse of the monsters in action in a preview, and McDonald mentions that Houses of Ashes reflects inspiration from films such as Aliens, The Descent, and Predator. McDonald also tells us about how the effect of these creatures was crafted, with the devs having “used a bunch of props, stilts, and other things, because these things are otherworldly; they do have different physiology. They do have different makeup to us, they’re built differently”. He explains that the use of mocap was “a great place for [them] to start” in achieving a sense of this, also noting that “they perceive the world in a different way”.

As the monsters slink in and out of the shadows, snatching bodies that have fallen into the catacombs, we see nimble, shadowy figures that look subhuman. They also make a ghastly noise. We do know a little history on the temple location itself, which was erected around 2250 BC during the reign of Naram-Sin, ruler of the Akkadian Empire, as an offering of peace to the gods – specifically Enlil, the god of earth, wind, and storms. It seems the temple offering didn’t patch things up, and when Akkad fell, the temple was lost beneath desert sands.

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Although the five playable characters are equipped with guns – being military personnel on a mission in Iraq – it doesn’t look like bullets will necessarily be all that effective on these creatures. It’s also not quite clear how many of the monsters are lurking in the temple itself, but speaking about his love for zombie films, McDonald confirms “they’re definitely not zombies” as “they’re fast, so you have to work out how you can get away from them and survive.” Gulp.

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McDonald also confirms we’ll also need to “work out what these things are, where they’ve come from, how you can kill them, and what they’re vulnerable to.” So, expect a fight against some big, bad beasties and something far less ephemeral when House of Ashes drops. There’s no release date just yet, but it’s expected to arrive some time in 2021.

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