THE DARK PICTURES ANTHOLOGY: MAN OF MEDAN / DEVELOPER: SUPERMASSIVE GAMES / PUBLISHER: BANDAI NAMCO / PLATFORM: PC, PS4 (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The latest offering from Supermassive Games, Man of Medan is the first in a series of episodic, standalone horror stories which will ultimately comprise the Dark Pictures Anthology and is something of a direct successor to Supermassive’s 2015 sleeper hit, Until Dawn.
Players familiar with the creepy and innovative Until Dawn will pretty much know exactly what to expect here. The game plays out very much like an interactive horror movie with multiple characters, all with their own playable sections. Gameplay and dialogue choices can drastically affect how the story pans out and how the relationships between the characters develop. There are no ‘game overs’ as, even if one of the characters dies, the story will simply continue without them. These potential branching paths can give some solid replay value, as you’ll need to play through the entire game multiple times just to see all the things that can happen to the poor, unfortunate protagonists.
Although the gameplay in MoM is almost identical to Until Dawn’s, the story and tone are very different. Whereas UD felt more like an early 2000s teen slasher with a keen sense of irony, MoM is attempting a slightly more po-faced approach, with greater attention to detail given to the use of psychological horror. The “cabin in the woods” theme has been replaced with various nautical locations and the comparatively smaller cast of main characters means that we get to know all of them (and the ins and outs of the relationships between them) in much greater detail. The story starts off with a brief prologue before quickly introducing the main cast in quick succession. They all start off as flawed people, but with somewhat open characteristics, giving the player the opportunity to mould each character with the dialogue and gameplay choices they make throughout.
Another change to the UD dawn formula that Supermassive have implemented is the inclusion of both on and offline multiplayer. If you’re a bit too scared to tackle the spoopy goings on yourself (and who could blame you?), players can pair up with an online friend or up to four other local multiplayer friends to take on the terrors of the deep with a bit more backup.
Although Supermassive haven’t quite hit the heights they did with the excellent Until Dawn (perhaps the slightly campy and almost tongue in cheek horror style lends itself better to these type of stories), we definitely feel that Man of Medan is worth checking out and we very much look forward to seeing what the next entry in the Dark Pictures Anthology brings. With the promise of a different horror trope being explored in each episode, there’s a huge amount of potential there. If you’re into survival horror, go get it right away!