May 28, 2021

House of Ashes is a frantic underground horror set beneath the Iraq War

After a teen movie on a haunted boat and a historical horror featuring witch trials, Supermassive Games will serve up something very different again for the next entry in its Dark Pictures Anthology series, House of Ashes.

Set in Iraq during the latter days of its most recent US invasion, this third standalone horror chapter is a claustrophobic monster story with a modern war backdrop: The Descent by way of Zero Dark Thirty. Its cast of characters is led by CIA operative Rachel King, played by Ashley Tisdale, who arrives in Iraq as part of a bungled raid to find chemical weapons. Another playable character, Salim Othman, is a local Iraqi soldier.

Snippets I've seen from the game's introduction show Tisdale and crew touch down in Iraq only to find they've screwed up. Military radar had shown something underground which US intelligence, desperate to find WMDs, decided was a chemical weapons factory. Instead, the company simply finds Iraqi farmers and local soldiers. A firefight breaks out and, in the chaos, both sides find themselves tumbling down into the real source of those radar results. It's here House of Ashes is mostly set - in an impressive set of subterranean ruins, remnants of the Akkadian Empire, dating back 2200 years to the reign of king Naram-Sin.

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