Supermassive Games is back once again to deliver another signature narrative-based game to scare the crap out of players in The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. A successor to the horror hit of Until Dawn, Man of Medan gives players the ability to control five individuals who find themselves trapped on a ship where unspeakable horrors have occurred. However, Man of Medan does its best to keep you guessing as to what exactly is going on throughout your fight for survival. This uneasiness surrounding what threats you are facing help to bring plenty of suspense to your experience, as you find yourself second-guessing every decision you will need to make.
(WARNING: Spoilers Below)
The story of Man of Medan begins a freighter ship embarking on a mission to deliver a group of caskets following World War II. However, a violent storm sends fateful lighting down to the vessel and strikes the caskets it has in its cargo. This lighting strike releases whatever was contained in these caskets. This series of events leads players to take control of a soldier who finds himself surrounded by plenty of death and disturbing events. Ultimately, everyone on board the freighter meets horrific deaths and the large vessel is left abandoned on the sea.
Man of Medan then pulls a trusty jump in time where players find themselves meeting a group of individuals heading out on a dive trip. Alex and his little brother Brad are accompanied by Alex’s girlfriend Julia and her brother Conrad. The captain of the group’s boat, the Duke of Milan, is then introduced to be Fliss. This leading group of characters is filled with different personalities that players have the option of making clash or at some level get along. From Conrad quickly resulting in flaunting his wealth to Fliss' steadfastness to protocol and traditions, there are plenty of opportunities throughout Man of Medan for these characters to butt heads or work together. However, I did find myself being angry with how some of the characters responded in certain situations.
Following an exploration dive of a wrecked airplane, a series of conversations to help build character development for each member of the leading group, and an unusual run-in with a group of fisherman, the Duke of Milan is overtaken by three mysterious figures who take the group hostage. It is soon revealed these three shadowy figures are the fisherman from before and are looking for a nice payday from their new kidnap victims.
This kidnapping sets the stage for the rest of our story, as all of the characters soon find themselves onboard the same freighter which befell a horrific fate at the beginning of the game following an escape attempt from our leading group and a violent storm thrusting them to the dangerous vessel. Suspense and dread soon become the constant feelings for players with their mission now being to help Alex, Brad, Fliss, Julia, and Conrad survive the mysterious dangers of the abandoned ship they find themselves stranded aboard.
Players are set on an adventure throughout the various areas of the dangerous ship controlling the actions of the kidnap victims. From vague figures lurking in the shadows, attacks from ghostly figures, and game's kidnappers, Man of Medan delivers plenty of jump scares and other terrifying sequences that keep the adrenaline pumping for players. I will be the first to admit I am the worst when it comes to reacting to jump scares, as I can not help myself from acting like a fish out of water when one happens. However, Man of Medan does an excellent job of setting up the jump scares through audio and environmental elements in ways where you can not help yourself from jumping in fear to the sudden terror that the title has thrust upon you.
However, every time you think you know what exactly is going on in Man of Medan the Supermassive Games title turns your deductions upside down and keeps you guessing as to what exactly is causing these horrific things to happen. The Supermassive Games does everything in its power to make you believe it is your traditional ghost story where the ship is haunted by otherworldly forces. Then you are shown on multiple occasions that it may be more of a scientific threat than supernatural. I truly enjoyed this misdirection when it comes to the danger you faced. Trying to figure out precisely what is causing the horrible things on the ship was just as enjoyable as trying to survive everything happening to the characters. The constant questioning of whether a threat was real or not delivered a significant amount of suspense when it came to decision making in intense action sequences.
As with Until Dawn, Supermassive Games delivers another visually stunning game in Man of Medan. Highly realistic character graphics and thousands of details come together to bring the mysterious ship to life help to immerse players and make them feel like they are right there experiencing the horrors themselves.
However, unlike Until Dawn, Man of Medan can be played cooperatively with other players while on the couch or online. The first entry in Supermassive Games’ The Dark Pictures Anthology is a title that could be enjoyed thoroughly with family and friends gathered around the living room deciding which decisions they should have the characters make. I can only imagine the excitement that could be had when a group is yelling for someone to decide on an intense action scene.
There is no denying Man of Medan delivers on this genre’s signature style of delivering gruesome deaths without any warning when a particular decision is made. This fear of having one dialogue or action choice resulting in the untimely death of a character adds an extreme level of suspense to every single option that is made available to players. My playthrough saw Fliss, Conrad, and all three of the kidnappers die. I can still remember the shock I had when Fliss died the second after I choose a dialogue option for Alex, and the immediate sense of impending doom when I failed to press the correct button and caused the gruesome death of Conrad. Sorry guys.
Replayability is another significant aspect of Man of Medan that helps the title push past its somewhat short story. Every character can die and live. These mortality options mean there are dozens of branching endings when it comes to which characters players can keep alive when the credits begin to roll. I will be heading back to the high seas of this Dark Pictures Anthology entry to see if I can keep everyone alive. However, I will most likely once again be unsuccessful in this matter.
Man of Medan continues the entertaining nature of the interactive narrative-based experience Supermassive Games put on the map with Until Dawn. However, the high seas adventure brings plenty of its unique flavor to make it a must-play for any horror fan. Unfortunately, the short nature of the story led me to feel like I was missing something when the survivors set off to salvation and left me wanting more in an unsatisfied manner than I was hoping to have when my experience ended.