- Game: The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan
- Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
- Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developer: Supermassive Games
A The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan review code was provided by the publisher.
Supermassive Games loves to scare people. More specifically, they love to make gamers jump out of their seats out of pure fear. 2015’s PS4 exclusive Until Dawn came out of nowhere and accomplished that very goal without much fanfare beforehand. Due to the surprising success of their interactive horror film experience, the development studio opted to stay on course. But this time around, they’ve chosen to create their own sort of Tales From the Crypt series with The Dark Pictures anthology. The first story in that series of thematic horror games places a group of unsuspecting young folks in an expectedly terrible dilemma. And just like Until Dawn before it, The Man of Medan is a nail-biting affair that warrants multiple playthroughs.
Man of Medan starts out with a bang – as one of two U.S. soldiers stationed aboard the SS Ourang Medan, you wake up from a drunken stupor only to find yourself in even more trouble. The rest of the ship’s personnel have seemingly died of unnatural causes, plus intense gunfire can be heard throughout the ship’s dark hallway. This intro sequence gives players a taste of what’s to come, which includes intense jump scares, quick-time events, and different dialogue choices to consider. The main sub-genre of horror you’ll delve through here deals with the supernatural, which is perfectly reflected by the gripping opening sequence. Once the story moves onto a modern-day setting, the wheels of fate truly start to turn.
Like most of the horror flicks you’ve caught during a late-night cable TV binge, Man of Medan features a group of four would-be thrill seekers and one super serious boat captain. Each of the actors behind each character does a fine job displaying the proper emotions felt during the game’s calmer moments and more terrifying events. Shawn Ashmore especially stands out due to his role as the witty, flirty dude who loves to party. The visuals are expectedly impressive and the audio work can be described in the very same manner – that comes as no surprise considering the studio behind this project. From time to time there are a few iffy looking facial animations that may elicit laughter instead of fear, however. Plus you’ll come upon textures that are still in the middle of loading and experience a few moments of troubling slowdown. Man of Medan’s technical hiccups needs to be ironed out at with an update in the near future.
Once the young treasure-seekers find themselves trapped in the seemingly abandoned SS Ourang Medan, things really pick up. Figuring out the mystery behind the infamous ghost ship and what happened to its massive crew is just a part of the terrifying story at hand. You’re in charge of helping each character escape the ship safely and ditching their dangerous captors. Each choice you make thankfully matters and plays a huge part in how your escape plan plays out. One of the cooler ways in which Man of Medan frightens you is with the addition of QTE’s centered on maintaining one’s heart rate. These super tense moments are far more fun than Until Dawn’s sequences that force you to keep the controller as still as possible. This new mechanic works pretty well in conjunction with a myriad of jump scares and far-off sightings that make you question your own sanity.
Once you find out what’s really causing all the madness within the infamous ghost ship, you’ll find yourself embroiled within a wild series of final events. This reviewer, in particular, screwed up pretty hard and ended up taking the life of someone very important. Shocking moments like the one I experienced will definitely compel you to seek out a second and maybe even third playthrough. Man of Medan’s short but sweet run time and interesting outcomes based on important decisions add to the game’s high replayability factor. The added local and online multiplayer modes improve the experience even more, which makes Man of Medan a fun party game to hop into once Halloween rolls around.
The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan Takeaways
While relatively shorter than Until Dawn, The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan still manages to deliver a worthwhile romp through a supernatural horror film. You’ll grow to love every member of your seafaring crew as you rack your brain trying to pick the options that’ll keep them all in one piece. As a horror game, it succeeds in scaring the crap out of you and raising your heart rate at regular intervals. A few awkward facial animations, bouts of annoying slowdown, and ugly looking textures take Man of Medan down a few pegs. But all in all, Supermassive’s start to their interactive horror anthology kicks things off in impressive fashion.
Our The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan Review Score: 8 out of 10