GamingPreview: The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan

Preview: The Dark Pictures: Man of Medan


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The recently announced The Dark Pictures anthology has certainly made at least a few fans of the horror genre happy. It’s rare to get a new horror themed game and the fact that it’s being developed by Supermassive Games makes it even better – the same team that developed the excellent Until Dawn. This time round the team will focus on a group of characters for each of these entries in the horror anthology and the first one titled Man of Medan takes places inside a cursed ship.

Like with Until Dawn, Supermassive Games have managed to get at least one recognisable face in Man of Medan in the form of Shawn Ashmore. Expect the same level of detail found in Until Dawn, when it comes to the characters, if this demo is anything to go by. The focus of the playable build was on two if the main characters called Fliss and Brad. The duo have somehow found themselves being led at gunpoint around the dark corridors of the Medan ship by a French speaking character called Danny, who is looking for his missing friend called Olsen. The game offers no way to resist against Danny as he forces the pair to walk on further ahead, as if they are his personal radiation canaries on the lookout for anything spooky and deadly.

What is clear from the start is just how creepy it feels to play through Man of Medan. If anything, this feels like the true sequel to Until Dawn since it resorts to using similar tricks to ensure that players never feel safe at any point.

Given the dark setting of a rundown ship, it’s handy that most of the objects Fliss (playable character) can interact with are clearly highlighted. It makes it easier than fumbling about in the dark for anything that looks remotely useful.

As with Until Dawn, the sound and camera angles are efficiently used for maximum dread effect. A simple walk down a narrow corridor is made to feel like torture as the camera angle focuses in front of the characters with the odd loud noise most likely making players jump. Supermassive Games have seemingly become so crafty at creating these jump scares that it’s impossible to not get tricked, no matter the fact that they are expThe Dark Pictures:ected from the genre. For most of us, there is no bigger fear that not knowing what lies ahead or just around that dark corner and the narrow corridors and other creepy locations of a derelict ship make for the perfect location.

The button prompts make use of a timer around them showing players how long they have to react that makes it easier to see them since it makes them more visible on-screen. It also seemed like the game is quite forgiving when it comes to pressing the incorrect button or just not being quick enough. On one occasion towards the end, the character was given three opportunities to get away from permanently joining the undead creatures that roam the boat, after the incorrect button was pressed twice. This could be handy if the full game is just as forgiving, given that it makes it easier for more players to keep the characters alive for longer and perhaps get to experience everything that the story has to offer.

Walking around the section of the playable demo build was interesting and it even felt claustrophobic at times, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the story can build upon this. After all, the demo takes places at least two or three chapters after the start of the story, so it’s difficult not to wonder how it can sustain this level of dread if it all takes place inside the ship.

Although the dialogue between the characters felt clunky and forced at times, it might make sense to have characters talk in such a manner to give it a teen slasher horror movie vibe. Even if it doesn’t feel natural for characters to play jump scares on each other for laughs under such dire circumstances. Oddly enough, a second playthrough of the demo seemed to demonstrate a slightly different relationship between Fliss and Brad. Some of the scripted events seen in the first playthrough were still there, but at other times their interactions seemed more relaxed. It could be that this is a sign of how the superb consequences system that Supermassive Games integrated in Until Dawn will work in Man of Medan. In Man of Medan players can make decisions based on a Moral Compass system that will affect how various events play out. In Until Dawn, some of these choices affected the relationships between characters and their interactions, but they also resulted in deadly outcomes for some of them. Although this small section of Man of Medan only had a few choices to make, one of them was a life or death situation, where the character was made to choose between her own safety and that of another character. The way that the whole sequence played out came off as confusing, but it’s definitely a good example of how quickly the stakes can be raised in this game.

As with Until Dawn, characters can also find information by carefully examining items and in this case it results in finding “secrets” clues. It’s not clear from this demo if finding these will result in the characters getting a better grasp of what is going on inside the ship.

It’s remarkable that Man of Medan managed to make such a positive impression in the short amount of time spent playing the demo. Although the choices presented in this section are fairly simple, it’s still interesting to see that players are offered the choice to mold how the story plays out. If it’s anything like Until Dawn,then these choices could change the way the story plays out further in. However, for now what matters is that Man of Medan is looking like another promising game from the development team who seem very keen at making as many players as possible terrified of what lurks in the dark.

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