Title: The Dark Pictures – Man of Medan
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Version Tested: PS4
Official Site: The Dark Pictures
Release Date: August 29, 2019
Where to Buy: Microsoft Store, PSN Store, Steam
Man of Mystery
In Man of Medan, Supermassive Games has yet another hit horror game on its hands. That is especially good news considering the firm is looking to have a hit horror franchise on its hands.
Telltale Games might have been one of the original adventure game stars but Supermassive has taken what they were known for and built on it. The company also took what they accomplished in Until Dawn and followed that road map.
What makes Man of Medan so entertaining is Supermassive did follow that road map, but added some twists and turns players haven’t seen before. They haven’t seen it in Until Dawn, that’s for sure, but gamers also haven’t seen what this game can do in any other adventure game until now. At its heart, the game is equal parts mystery and horror and both work pretty well, even if the mystery doesn’t pay off as well as it could.
Man of Medan puts you at the center of a group of friends who have hired a boat and its captain, Fliss, to take them out diving and excavating. After a run-in with some unsavory characters, Conrad, Alex, Brad, Julia, and Fliss find themselves stranded aboard a World War II-era freighter that appears of the mist mysteriously.
Once they arrive on the massive, abandoned ship they realize the trouble has just started. As was the case with Until Dawn, the point of Man of Medan is for the players to guide each character through the adventure and come out the other end with as many survivors as possible.
As was the case with its predecessor, that’s easier said than done in this game.
Scary Good but not Really Scary
When playing through Man of Medan, it’s not a game that is going to have you jumping and screaming in terror. Despite being billed as a horror game, it really fits more into the mystery/adventure genre.
Yes, there are spooky sounds and jump scares here and there, but never enough to make you shut your eyes or turn away because you’re afraid of what you’ll see next. That’s not actually a bad thing.
The story is well written enough (even if there are some hokey lines here and there) that players are more likely to be glued to the screen to see what happens next. While Until Dawn was made to make you feel as though you were in the middle of a campy horror film, this edition will make you feel as though perhaps you’ve been put into the middle of an episode of Scooby-Doo. The obvious difference is you won’t be side by side with a gangly beatnik or a talking dog.
Adding the feeling of being inside a long television program or a full-fledged movie is the slow burn the story starts off with. Alex, Brad, Fliss, Julia, and Conrad spend some time getting to know each other before the fireworks start.
That’s a great decision by Supermassive because it makes the players get to know the characters they are supposed to help survive. When the smoke clears at the end of the game, if you weren’t able to shepherd everyone to the end, you’ll find yourself wanting to apologize to the survivors.
Multiplayer Breaks New Ground
Man of Medan is plenty entertaining when played using the single-player mode. The co-op version, known as “movie night” is plenty of party game fun as well.
Where the game really shines is when you kick off a story using the online multiplayer mode. The online mode allows a player to invite a friend into a session. Once begun, the two players will share a scene here or there, but will mostly be off investigating different parts of one boat or another or talking to NPCs.
There’s no split-screen to be found in this multiplayer. Once the story takes players on divergent paths, one user will have no direct knowledge of what the other is going through.
Man of Medan doesn’t even encourage players to talk to each other using their headsets. That can be sidestepped by setting up chat parties, but it appears Supermassive doesn’t want players to be able to communicate but rather experience the story as the characters would.
When using a party chart to compare notes, Man of Medan truly takes on the work of a game that stands out in a crowded adventure game field. Depending on the choices made, one player might be hanging out on the deck of the chartered boat, trying to make time with its captain. The other player will be deep-sea diving, checking out an ancient, underwater wreck. Neither player knows what action is going on with the other. It’s truly as though the players are running through two different stories.
Even when users are sharing a scene, they can see different things. Should one player be leading the group down a dark hallway, he might see something dart across their paths. The player who is bringing up the rear might never spy whoever or whatever ran through.
Not only does add to the feeling of truly being off on your own, but it also makes it that much easier to play through Man of Medan more than once. Depending on how you play, there’s a very good chance new scenes and situations will be presented to you on a second run.
Short But Sweet
If there is one complaint about Man of Medan, it’s that it can be a very short game. There are arguments to be made on both sides of whether that’s good or bad.
Just how long a playthrough will take depends on the choices you make. Unlike some games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead, it’s clear the choices you’re presented, even some rather minor ones, do affect what you’ll see later on.
The shortness of the game, paired with the (mostly) very good writing will have you wanting to get back to it and try again. It carries a fair price tag of $29.99 as well, making the game even easier to stomach. Still, this does appear even shorter than Until Dawn was and that wasn’t known for its length of the story.
Verdict: Man of Medan is a great follow up to Until Dawn. It’s also a great kickoff to the Dark Pictures anthology. Supermassive has certainly honed its craft well and would likely be set to take the crown of best adventure games out there, even if Telltale Games hadn’t already fallen by the wayside.
- Feels like playing through a movie
- Photorealistic graphics allow you to get into the game
- Online multiplayer is groundbreaking
- Plenty of replayability
- The story can be quite short
- There is some lagging and stuttering when playing online multiplayer