The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan – Review (PS4)

Developer: Supermassive Games

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Release date: 30/08/19

Price: £24.99

I was genuinely excited to get my hands on this, I thoroughly enjoyed Supermassive Games first title ‘Until Dawn’ so couldn’t wait to get into this title. I was also excited to learn that Man of Medan is the first in a proposed anthology of short-ish horror games. Let me tell you what I thought…

Who survives is in your hands

So, for those of you that aren’t familiar with this title or Supermassive Games first entry, I’ll explain briefly how these games play and how they are setup. In short, it is an interactive game that plays like a movie but you have control over the characters. You decide where they go, what they do and what they say. The decisions you make will either help them survive…or get them killed. There is no going back on your decisions, you must live by them and you must face the consequences. I think it is a very cool concept and making the timed decisions can make you nervous and anxious on whether it’s the right decision or not. There is also timed button bashes which again makes you anxious to get it right because a missed button could be fatal.

Think before committing to a decision – sometimes saying nothing is best

A little backstory

So, this particular story begins with a prologue on a ship during World War II and some…strange things happen shall we say but I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave it there! We then move to the present with four friends going on a diving trip to search for a sunken World War II plane on a rented boat with a local captain. They’re soon abducted by a group of fishermen turned pirates but a massive storm interrupts the attacks. This causes the group to take cover on a large abandoned ship they come across named the Ourang Medan and it soon becomes apparent that the pirates think there is treasure aboard. This is our ship from the prologue and it is very much a ghost ship now with dead corpses laying around.

The devil is in the detail

Explore the ghost ship at your peril

So, as you play through, there will be plenty of decisions for you to make and yes, some of them seem simple and innocent enough and feel as if they won’t add to the story but they do, believe me, they do! Two characters might just be innocently chatting near the start of the game but every decision will affect your relationship with that person as well as your traits. If you disagree with somebody or you don’t back them up then your relationship with that person may grow weaker which can affect things later in the game. You may need that person’s help at a critical point later but they may choose not to because of your prior and damaging decisions. So, think about your decisions before acting!

Will acting defiant cause an upset or is nonchalant the right path? You decide!

As you traverse the ship and try to muster up an escape from your captors, you will find letters and little clues as to what happened to the corpses littered around the ship. Another thing you will find is that sometimes when you click on a picture or object, a premonition scene will happen. Until Dawn used the premonitions and I’m glad to see them back again, they are useful. They are only quick snippets but they will show certain situations or perhaps sometimes a death to your group and you must familiarise yourself with this snippet to try and avoid that outcome.

Also, as you progress through the game, you’ll encounter the curator in between chapters. He is kind of like the storyteller/crypt keeper who will give cryptic advice as well as mentioning whether you are progressing well or not. He will also be the link apparently between this game and the rest of the upcoming anthology games.

It looks great but the story lacks

A creepy ghoul you may run into…

The game looks fantastic especially the ghost ship, it is extremely detailed and creepy and it really communicates the unpleasantness of exploring an old ship full of dark corners and rotting corpses.

Another plus point was the camera work. As you enter a room, the camera mostly remains in a static wide shot as you guide your character around the room and I think this works fantastic. The stillness leads to some unsettling shots, for example, one that sticks in the memory is when the camera seems to peer out from behind a corpse’s head and it slowly turns to look at your character. It is great and the still camera follows your movements just enough to let you explore while allowing the developers to show you exactly what they want you to see. It is very effective.

That dark corridor sure looks unsettling

Unfortunately, now for the bad points and despite the characters and their relationships feeling detailed and fleshed out, the story is lacking. It is okay but just not quite there. Whilst not giving anything away, it takes a little while to warm up and then when it does warm up, it is good but then it tails off and gets a little stale at the end without too much excitement or anxiousness.

I also knew it was going to be a short game and yes, there is need to have re-runs so you can make sure you can save the deceased members of your group (unless you nailed survival first time) or perhaps you want that missing trophy but it took me just under four hours. That was one sitting and I didn’t shy away from the exploring, I explored thoroughly! That’s just my opinion though but I just felt it was even shorter than anticipated.

Multiplayer options

Included in this title is a couple of multiplayer options and they can be fun to play with friends. Shared story is one where two players can tackle the game online together or you play Movie Night where up to five players can play locally. You each select a character and when it is that characters chapter, it is a case of simply passing the remote. This is fun as up to five of you are in the same room at the same time and the spectators are most likely screaming at the TV something like ‘No, don’t go in there!.’ It’s just like watching a horror movie play out, hence the name of the option.

The Movie Night select character screen

Verdict: 68% A worthy adventure!

Audio: 70%

Gameplay: 70%

Graphics: 80%

Story: 55%

Value for money: 65%

Overall, it is a great looking game with detailed characters and fleshed out relationships. Unfortunately, for me, the story lets it down slightly but it is still a worthy play and does have its scary moments which will keep you on your toes. The multiplayer is a good added option to the game and it being £25 rather than being full priced is a plus despite my feelings on it feeling very short.