The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan – A short treat for the control freaks
A ghost ship, lots of gore and difficult choices: this is the newest Supermassive’s Man of Medan.
Alex and Brad getting ready for the trip of their lifetime.
Supermassive Games’ Man of Medan treats us with control over how unique and at times shocking we want our gameplay to be. It’s about two pairs of carefree siblings setting out to discover lost World War II wreckage in the South Pacific Ocean. Together with their feisty ship captain Fliss, brothers Alex and Brad and siblings Julia and Conrad get trapped in a large ghost ship after things go horribly wrong with a group of bandits. As they are facing their worst nightmares, the player gets to dictate who of the five characters survives until morning. Each playthrough is “supervised” by the Curator; a mysterious, witty and perceptive man in black. The Curator comments on the player’s decisions and offers helpful tips during game but isn’t part of Man of Medan itself. Not much is said about him, but Supermassive is planning Curator to be the mascot for their Dark Pictures Anthology series, Man of Medan being its first installment. They are planning on releasing up to eight individual entries to the anthology series, each based on notorious urban legends.
The all-mighty Curator.
As a sucker for interactive horror games, I was mildly disappointed in Man of Medan’s offering. The game’s disappointing five-hour length especially affected the character development. I found most of them one-dimensional and boring. Conrad was the only one whose “life” mattered to me, since his crude humor made up for it. The diver couple Alex and Julia had no depth personality-wise, since the only thing that was revealed about them was that Julia is rich and spoiled and Alex is insecure about himself. I was satisfied with the story despite game’s strange way of connecting different cutscenes according to my choices. For example, if one of my character had just died, the remaining sibling’s reaction to it is at times oddly calm breaking the plot continuity.
On a positive note, Man of Medan has a great plot twist to offer, and really delivers on interactivity. The player’s choices do actually matter, even the innocuous ones may kill a character. Delightfully, the game offers some shocking endings based on player’s choices on character relationship and succeeding in quick time events. This is satisfying since their cult classic Until Dawn packed fewer and simpler endings, despite being longer in length. In addition, it is possible to play with friends either locally or online. In Movie Night mode, up to five people can play as each main character by passing on the controller. On Shared Story online mode, two players get to play together completing different scenes from the game simultaneously. This way playthrough gets unpredictable as you have no idea what choices the other player is making. After first playthrough the game unlocks Curator’s cut enabling to experience certain scenes from a different perspective. It also unlocks previously unplayable choices. I felt Curator’s cut gave insight to many unanswered questions and offered a refreshing take on the game.
In sum, I can recommend this game with a few reservations. First of all, the price doesn’t match the length. Secondly, gameplay may feel overly simplified for the experienced players, since it’s essentially picking dialogues and hitting QTEs. Thirdly, the plot and characters’ blandness may make the game seem off-putting. But if none of these bother you and you’re up for a great interactive horror thrill, Man of Medan is the game for you!
Conrad facing his worst nightmare.
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe
Developer: Supermassive Games
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: 30.08.2019
Genres: Interactive drama, survival horror
All screenshots are from the game’s official website: https://www.thedarkpictures.com